February 03, 2021 2 min read

It’s safe to say that COVID-19 has had a significant impact on businesses during the past year. The hospitality industry has been one of the biggest casualties, with literally thousands of restaurants and pubs forced to close.

According to a recent report in The Spirits Business, almost 6,000 licensed venues in Britain were forced to permanently close in 2020 due to the pandemic. Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UK Hospitality, said: “The loss of 6,000 premises is a dreadful blow to this country’s hospitality sector, but it is going to be the tip of the iceberg if we continue on our current course.” Source: www.thespiritsbusiness.com

As the devastating impact of the pandemic took hold, and orders started to dry up for suppliers to the hospitality sector, it started to become clear that without a strategy re-think, the scope of the damage was going to snowball. With this in mind, we (Norfolk-based Wild Knight Distillery), as suppliers of locally-produced premium spirit brands Wild Knight® English Vodka, Espresso Martini, Nelson’s Gold® and Boadicea® Gin, decided to take things in hand and seize the opportunity to prioritise sales and engagement through our website and social media sites.

At the start of the pandemic, an opportunity arose for us to help the University of East Anglia produce much-needed hand sanitiser by supplying it with alcohol and bottling equipment. This turned out to be a very successful alliance, with the University in return offering to assess our online presence. The suggestions made prompted the implementation of changes, resulting in an improved online ordering experience, something that will stand us in good stead for the future.

Looking ahead to more ‘normal’ times, we have started making plans to create premises to become more customer-focused, with plans for tours, tastings and an overall more immersive experience. We are also developing ideas for new additions to the current spirits range.

Our co-founder Matt Brown (pictured) commented, “During COVID, we have learnt to think on our feet, transferring all of our sales online almost overnight and we have had to become incredibly adaptable and resilient. Throughout the last few months, we’ve found that a sense of optimism is key to staying on top.

“Looking to the future, we will be offering virtual tastings and cocktail-making sessions, all focused on exciting customers who are unable to visit their much-loved local.”

Wild Knight Distillery is a multi-award winning distillery based in Beachamwell, Norfolk.