As pubs across England reopen their doors for the first time this year, the teams at Majestic Commercial reveal how they’ve been working behind the scenes to prepare for the resumption of hospitality. From refreshing wine lists, to increasing staff training, the on-trade arm of the UK’s largest specialist wine retailer is keen to be proactive and fully behind the nationwide bars, restaurants and venues which choose to get their bottles from Majestic.
Here, three of Majestic Commercial’s Heads of Sales talk us through how they’ve been preparing for the reopening – and what steps they’ve taken over previous lockdowns to ensure they’re on the front foot as kegs are spiked, and corks are popped across the UK.
With pubs and bars now open, what steps have we made at Majestic Commercial to prep for the restart?
Allen Martindale, Head of Sales London says:
“We’ve been working really hard over the last few months to be ready for when the brilliant establishments we trade with open up. It’s about the fast start and our team’s approach. It’s a real mindset shift, I feel like we’re sprinters on the starting line, waiting for the B of the Bang!”
Joe Beveridge, Head of Sales North & East adds:
“We have been in constant contact with all of our existing customers – planning with them when they are reopening, letting them know about our new wines, and making their wine list as on point as possible.
We have been flexible with payment plans when suitable, and let them return stock so their range is fighting fit for returning punters. Plus we have 21 new and refreshed wines joining the portfolio from Italy and South Africa and the rest of our range is available in volume, which is also great news!”
Many people may not even be aware of the Majestic Commercial arm, or that we have a nationwide on-trade offering for pubs, bars and restaurants. What improvements have we made to this part of the business over lockdown?
For Joe, it’s been all about focusing on what their customers want most.
“The great thing about being the on-trade arm of the Majestic family is that we have all the benefits of being part of the nation’s number one wine merchant – but with a laser focus on providing brilliant wines to be consumed in brilliant places.
There’s been some key changes we’ve made, like improving the range, amending the roles and responsibilities and updating our focus as a team to be accounts we can build long-term relationships with.”
Allen thinks that, although the last few months have been incredible hard, the future could be very exciting for Majestic Commercial.
“We have some very clear plans for Commercial now, it’s really exciting to be a part of and to be aiming to target future growth too. We’ve worked more closely than ever with our retail colleagues over the last few months and it really feels like an exciting new chapter is about to be written.”
How has it been working in the on-trade arm of Majestic during a lockdown?
Tim Beck, Head of Sales for the Midlands, believes maintaining key relationships when times are hard, as well as good, is key.
“We know how hard it’s been out there, and our store teams and Commercial colleagues have been aiming to be supportive and understanding. I would hope that for the vast majority of our customers, our customer-supplier relationship will have been enhanced by the last year.
I’ve also got lots of stores and customers that I’m looking forward to visiting for the first time. You really miss that sense of interaction and relationship building – it’s something Zoom cannot quite replace.“
For Allen, it’s been a chance to work alongside the retail team to revamp the Commercial proposition – with range as a key focus.
“A big one for me is the way we think and work with all the wines we have available to us. Wines in stores are no longer ‘retail wines’ they’re simply ‘our wines’ – we also then have a range that is exclusive to Commercial customers. This will be a different way of working as things open up”
And finally. Where will you be having your first pint/glass of wine?
Joe: “I’ll be supporting my local pub, sat in the beer garden in blazing April sunshine. I haven’t persuaded them (yet) to list a Vinho Verde, so a pint of cask beer will have to suffice. I can picture it now… “
Allen: “I went to the Horseshoe Inn, Bermondsey last July, it’s a great customer of ours with a decent beer garden. This time I think I’ll head into central London because it’s been so empty for so long, maybe a Guinness at the Toucan in Soho Square. “
Tim: “Now that we are coming out of the dark depths of winter and into better weather, I think bike rides with my 3 year old son on the back will be back on the cards. The route that we normally take goes right past my local pub which happens to have a very child friendly garden. Once that garden is open it would be criminal not to stop and let my son go on the slides. As he is tearing around enjoying the ‘pub, pub, pub’ as he calls it, I will be sipping a local IPA… Can’t wait.“