Report highlights impact of pandemic on English and Welsh wine sector

A report on the early impacts of the Coronavirus pandemic on English and Welsh vineyards and wineries shows that two-thirds of those surveyed have cashflow concerns while four out of ten business owners are experiencing higher levels of stress.

The report is the result of a survey conducted by Professor Francis Greene together with Dr Alessandro Rosiello from the University of Edinburgh Business School, following interviews conducted during April and early May. The report looks at a snapshot of respondents from different sized businesses and it spans the period since the lockdown started.

It reveals that the key concern is about the short-term future and also identifies that two-thirds have cashflow concerns and half have had to delay strategic investment plans. It shows that half of larger vineyards have concerns about the availability of seasonal workers, and one third of owners are experiencing supply chain issues. It also shows that four out of ten owners are experiencing higher stress levels.

More than half the respondents anticipate their business will shrink, however despite bleak financial prospects, many wine producers are upbeat about their survival prospects. On a positive note, two-thirds of those surveyed already had an online presence and following the Covid-19 outbreak they have increased online sales by 25 per cent on average.

Simon Robinson, chairman of Wines of Great Britain, said: “We welcomed the opportunity to assess how many of our members were managing during this crisis, and are very grateful to Professor Greene and Dr Rosiello for providing us with this informative report. There are many actions we can take from these pages that WineGB will develop and provide additional support for our members.

“As with many other sectors, our industry has been badly hit by the downturn in sales, particularly with hospitality in complete lockdown and our vineyards also being closed to the public. Although this crisis has had a significant impact on our fledgling industry, we nevertheless remain very optimistic about the medium- to long-term future. As a trade association we are better informed to work constructively with government at all levels to ensure that our members have access to the support they need.”

The report’s author, Professor Greene, said: “Like the rest of British agriculture, English and Welsh wine producers are grappling with the unprecedented crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic. While they remain resilient and have a bright long-term future, the aim of our research is to understand the frontline impacts, spark ideas and ensure the effort to rebuild the economy is well-informed.”

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