A home brew kit hardware manufacturer is among the minority of New Zealand businesses that have benefited from the Covid-19 lockdown.
Hawke's Bay-based WilliamsWarn says more Kiwis interested in brewing their own beer from home has resulted in a surge in business for the firm.
Sam Wood, managing director of WilliamsWarn, says the company experienced strong sales growth during lockdown, but it was hard to know what the actual percentage increase figures were as they offset a drop in sales from its hospitality divisions.
Wood says lockdown had taught him the importance of being flexible and a business nimble.
His advice to businesses finding the current trading environment tough was to be flexible and make sure they are able to pivot quickly to get periods of uncertainty.
"Adjusting the business to suit the environment is the most critical thing because if you delay decisions the effect and impact on your business is a lot harsher," Wood told the Herald.
"You've got to adjust quickly and then readjust all the time to try and minimise the impact that Covid will have on your business."
Prior to lockdown, the business experienced an increase in its existing customers wanting to buy a whole lot of stock so they could brew beer during lockdown, said Wood.
Initially it had a lot of ingredient sales and then hardware sales began to trickle in, he said.
The business stopped operations for about a week while it assessed whether it should be open. "While we were locked down we couldn't sell anything and then when we came back [online] we started getting good ingredient sales and slowly but surely the hardware started to increase."
Overall revenue over the lockdown period was similar to typical levels due to the increase in consumer sales, Wood said.
"We lost a fair few international sales which we typically would have got over that period, and all of our hospitality business died," he said.
"When lockdown [lifted] and we moved to level 1, the consumer sales stayed up and have been quite consistent since then."
The B2B hospitality sales had started to come back and to return to good levels before Auckland moved into level 3, he said.
"The overall Covid pandemic has been really positive for us and talking to other people in home brewing and other similar businesses around passion hobbies it is the same."
Home brewing has surged in popularity around the world as economies have thinned to a standstill amid various lockdown restrictions.Wood said he had expected this would be the case following the onset of the pandemic.
Wood said maintaining a positive outlook was so important for business owners, particularly through periods of uncertainty. "Talk to people in a similar situation to you - that's probably the best advice, because there's not a lot of point talking to someone that is doing well out of Covid. You need to talk to people in similar situations because you can always pick up really good tips by talking to other people in similar circumstances."
Wood said this had proven true during the drought in Hawke's Bay.
"Like-minded business people, they do need to communicate with each other. You shouldn't be afraid to ring up and talk to someone in a similar situation - everyone welcomes the call because they want to talk about it as well."
Collaborating with another businesses during tough times could also a good idea, he said.
"Any interactions with other businesses is really good."
Wood has been managing director of WilliamsWarn for about eight years. The business has been selling product for just over five years and spent its first few years in R&D.
WilliamsWarn began selling its original BrewMaster product in 2011 and brew kegs and accessories in 2014.
Wood said he was concerned about the months ahead as he did not believe the real impacts of the economic downturn had yet been felt. That being said, he was also surprised at how fast spending bounced back and a sense of normality had returned after the first round of lockdown.
• Make decisions quickly on your toes
• Keep a positive outlook
• Don't be afraid to ask for help
• Reach out to people in a similar situation to you