British beer and wine producer Chapel Down has toasted a surge in supermarket sales as consumers stock up during the coronavirus lockdown.
Supermarket and off licence sales have grown “substantially” and online transactions have also increased after the government ordered all pubs, theatres and hospitality venues to close in a bid to stop the spread of coronavirus.
Chapel Down said that if the current sales rate continues, it will “more than make up” for the loss of sales to pubs and other venues and strengthen the brand’s market share.
The company has closed its brewery in Ashford and winery in Tenterden to the public, and has decided to stop brewing beer and cider until the pub trade returns to normality. The company said it has sufficient stocks to supply customers for up to six months.
Meanwhile, all staff directly affected by the closures have been furloughed and will be paid 80 per cent of their wage through the government’s coronavirus retention scheme. The board, executive and senior management teams have also taken a pay cut of 20 per cent to 40 per cent.
Chief executive Frazer Thompson said: “These are challenging times, but we believe that the company is in a better position – strong in on-line and off-trade sales – than nearly all its competitors in English wine and craft beer.
“We have a good relationship with our bank HSBC, solid tangible assets and great brands. I believe we are in a very strong position to weather the crisis.
“Demand for our brands remains extremely healthy. We have taken swift and decisive action to ensure that the company is well placed for the aftermath and has the talent to compete immediately.”