Distell pleased with alcohol sales being allowed, but raises concerns too

Wants clarity on trading restrictions in Level 3.
Image: Moneyweb

JSE-listed alcohol beverages group Distell on Monday welcomed President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement that the sale of alcohol for home consumption will be allowed as part of the country’s move to Level 3 of the Covid-19 lockdown.

It noted that the sale of alcohol would be under strict conditions, such as restricted trading hours and days. However, it also warned of possible chaos.

“The president confirmed that these conditions had not been finalised and would be done so following further discussions with the sector. Distell is a part of the South African Liquor Brand Owners Association (Salba) and is working alongside other industry participants such as the Beer Association of South Africa (Basa) and VinPro,” it said in a statement.

“The industry associations have been engaging with government to develop practical trading proposals that will support government’s Covid-19 objectives,” it added.

Commenting on Ramaphosa’s announcement, Distell CEO Richard Rushton said: “We welcome the move by government to allow the alcohol industry to return to responsible trading. The alcohol industry currently contributes to nearly a million jobs [in its] value chain and supports nearly 800 small and medium enterprises. We are working with government and providing input on the draft proposals.”

Distell also raised concerns about what it terms “the unintended consequences of restricted trading”, such as overcrowding and the continued illicit trade of alcohol. The group also called for the inclusion of taverns to be allowed to sell alcohol.

“In India, where after a six-week ban on the sales of alcohol, similar decisions were taken to open up with restricted trading which lead to over-crowding and fighting at outlets. This outcome would be counterproductive to strict safety protocols and government’s overall Covid-19 objectives,” Distell said.

“Illicit trade has also seen a dramatic rise since the ban, which may continue should trading be banned over the weekends when customers typically consume alcohol. Industry associations have presented several proposals and solutions to ensure safe off consumption trading of taverns,” it noted.

“These solutions include safety protocols for trading, including e-commerce, and also addressed transmission risks across the value chain and the safety of the workforce, suppliers, retailers and consumers. One of the solutions include a ‘click and collect’ model which has been developed with taverns to ensure social distancing measures are followed, in the same way that traditional restaurants will be allowed to operate,” it said.

Distell said taverner associations have committed to ensuring adherence to health and safety regulations, as well as social distancing at all times.

“This forms a part of industry’s educational and training initiatives aimed primarily at the 34 500 tavern owners to ensure they provide a safe environment for customers in which to trade. Part of the support for taverns includes supplying the free personal protective equipment packages, including sanitisers, masks, gloves, as well as education and training material to meet strict Covid-19 safety protocols,” it pointed out.

“Distell is committed to contributing to a safe operating environment as the government opens up the economy. We also appreciate the uncharted territory we all find ourselves in and the steps taken to date to combat the rise of Covid-19,” said Rushton.

“We can learn from other countries in opening up our industry and have proposed pragmatic and safe solutions to avoid these risks. We also see these 34 500 tavern owners as an important part of economic inclusion in both protecting lives and livelihoods,” he added.

Rushton said the industry was confident it can address the challenges around Covid-19 together with government.

Read: Distell warns of up to 80% drop in full-year profits

Distell’s share price was up almost 6% on Monday, at R78.58, following Ramaphosa’s announcement. AB Inbev, the owner of South African Breweries was up by just over 2%.

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Yaa. Self inflicted problem.

Should never have been closed in the first place.

Don’t expect anything sensible to come from this lot but the idiocy might provide a bit of laughter anyway.

True that. Online trading will probably be banned and we will not be able to just buy a bottle of wine with our food for dinner. This bunch of clowns feel rules, any rules, show they are doing something. But will be good for a laugh, as you say.

Sorry to say but Alcohol will be back under lock and key soon soon. Three things that will drive this:-
– Drunken drivers, Alcohol related road accidents
– Domestic violence related incidents
– Public disturbance issues as people start partying

The reason why we could not follow the route of economies like Sweden and Taiwan is because our citizens cannot act of the own accord and within the confines of the law. Sorry to say but that is the truth, one only has to look at the destruction of property during so called peaceful protest marches in South Africa.

Yes. A result of the ANC spending over a century teaching “their people” to be ill disciplined. It will take many more centuries to correct.

They obviously know it hence the nonsensical regulations.

Women and children were beaten up in much bigger numbers with the deprivation of alcohol and sigarettes, if you missed that. Also drawing unscientific conclusions out of your …. as the mad hatter does.

Really now? Any references to that NOVEL finding?

And the reason perhaps? I guess toxic masculinity is worse when not kept sedated?

Casi_Negro, if you are replying to me: domestic violence has many complex reasons, and women are less likely to be the perpetrators. Worldwide a spike has been reported, simply because victims were/are locked up with the perpetrators, regardless of alcohol bans or not. People were forbidden from travelling, and who would, if someone was allegedlly beaten to death for drinking a beer in his own yard? How many bodies might still be found buried in back yards in the years to come? You suffer from the same delusion the government does: forbidding a substance does not mean people stop doing it. Ever heard of the “war on drugs”, which turned out to be a total failure? Prohibition, which facilitated organized crime, as is happening in RSA? Everybody WILL die of something, many prefer to live until that day, not just be alive.

“Women and children were beaten up in much bigger numbers with the deprivation of alcohol and sigarettes, if you missed that”

Again, where are the numbers?

and what the actual fck does anything you mention got to do with “women and children beaten up”?

You are from the brilliant crowd that claim
” women are disproportionately affected by COVID”
while stats show men die significantly more…

If I had a clue what you are ranting about, Casi_Negro, I would react to it.

Methinks @griet and @casi_negro need to go straight past Lockdown Level 1 and collect a 6 pack of beers and a box of smokes. You both clearly need some chill time. It would appear that you a both on the same side and now you have successfully landed on opposite sides.
Sound like government intervention happened here.
Stay safe folks

Which means I will make sure that I stock up to the hilt this time round.

Sense and sensibility for me at last… After 10 weeks of no smoking and no drinking!!! My money wont touch that stuff anymore. COVID 19 lockdown was a big reset button for me. These are are vices I easily can do without.

Some more nonsensical regulations incoming. Why restrict trade of alcohol to certain days and times? Not like covid will be on holiday during those times. Just another example of the gov trying to stupidly micromanage everything and over complicate our lives. It must look like they are doing something to stop the spread, and this nonsense is what they come up with…

End of comments.

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