managing director, Journey’s End/Cape Wine Exporters, South Africa
Before the Covid-19 pandemic struck, the UK hospitality sector was a key commercial centre for our South African wines. Sadly, the on-trade across all our markets disappeared in April 2020; given the stock that many operators hold, there has been a very slow pick up since lockdown restrictions eased, as their overall sales remain low compared to 2019. Yet there is significant variation: regional and residential areas are actually doing well in terms of on-trade sales – particularly the South of England – however, city centres and most notably London remain well below normal with a huge loss of tourism and people who are now working from home. The loss of tourism and travel retail markets has hit everyone hard. Once lucrative export destinations such as the Seychelles, Maldives and Dubai are hugely depressed and whilst the situation is improving very gradually, it is a far cry from 2019 levels.