At Bristol Dry Gin we only have a small team, and all of us have spent years in the On-Trade. We run the bar and, in normal times, get out as much as we can to do festivals and events, so still consider ourselves to be part of the trade, even though our primary function is now gin production.
Having worked in the Bristol bar and restaurant scene, we have many many friends who are bartending, chefing, managing and waiting in the local hospitality industry. In December 2021, there seemed to be one topic that kept coming up again and again in conversation.... price increases. 1st December seems to be that date when the big wholesalers and suppliers put their prices up. There are many justifications for price rises, but none that occur at the start of December. The consensus seems to be that it is quite simply a price hike at the start of the busiest time of year, to make more profit. Whether the fact that the price increases came with an email stating how hard these companies were working to support the trade, increased or decreased the rage is a matter of individual perspective.
It was noted by many that there were one group of suppliers who did not put up prices in December. The local producers and suppliers. Not just us, but local wine merchants, small wholesalers and other gin producers in Bristol. We were asked, why have we not put up our prices like the big boys? The answer is complicated, which prompted this post.
The short answer is simply that we didn't need to. Unlike the big companies supplying bars and restaurants around Bristol, we did not accumulate large debts during the lockdown. We bought back stock from our on-trade customers, to help with their cashflow, which helped us keep up the the huge online demand that had been created. When the lockdowns ended, we, again, didn't follow the corporate example and reduce our deliveries to one day a week to try and reduce our costs. We kept delivering the same day or next day, even for those who place emergency orders on a Saturday night, because they forgot to order in the week (you know who you are).
We are also mindful that we supply a lot of independent venues, who do not have the time in December to update their menus, online ordering systems, and EPOS while dealing with Christmas madness. Without being able to pass on these costs to guests, the effect of imposing price increases at this time bolsters the bottom line of the large wholesalers, but at the expense of the hard won profits of the on-trade.
While there are many virtues to sourcing products locally, the benefits to the independent venues actually translate into better, more resilient and more profitable local venues.
While Bristol Dry Gin has not had to make a price increase in the last 4 years, that is not to say that there will not be one at some point. We do however promise, that is an increase is necessary, it will never be in December.
And on that note, we would like to thank all of our local suppliers, who did not put their prices up in December, and we look forward to working with them through 2022.