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Neeraj Kumar of Beam Suntory on the COVID Impact

20 August 2020 by Ambrosia Magazine

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Undoubtedly the global economies have been in a tizzy due to the ongoing pandemic situation. While the markets and businesses are starting to open slowly, the F&B industry hasn’t seen a more challenging situation. While converting their manufacturing facilities to produce hand sanitizers to help the government might have eased the burden temporarily, manufacturers are eagerly awaiting the good times to roll back.

In a quick interaction with Ambrosia, Neeraj Kumar, MD, Beam Suntory India commented on the how the ongoing pandemic impacted the industry and also the efforts that his company is making during this time with nearly 60 days retail lockdown for duty-free shops, bars, hotels and restaurants continuing to remain shut. “As a world leader in premium spirits, on-premise outlets play an important role in Beam Suntory’s business in India. In our commitment to support the F&B community, we partnered with NRAI to pledge support of INR 1 Crore to provide relief to the staff of member restaurants who have passionately supported the industry with their talent. We also rolled out the ‘learn and earn’ program through our global bartending engagement program, ‘The Blend’ which encouraged bartenders to utilize their time at home effectively by taking up online training modules spread across 50 sessions, with prizes for the participants.”

Despite the cases ramping up and India becoming one of the top 3 countries affected by the pandemic the government is making numerous efforts to revive the industry. And this move is welcomed by Kumar as he states ‘we support the Government’s decision to open e-commerce channels for online sales and home delivery of alcohol in some states, which has led to the much-needed growth in off-trade for the alcobev brands. We hope there is a continuous expansion of e-commerce channels as we move forward.’

As a company Beam Suntory though isn’t only focusing on the business, but also channeling their CSR to spread more awareness of social distancing and safety measures. “As social distancing continues to be the norm, we have also partnered with ISWAI to bring forth a program called ‘Safe Shield’ to educate retailers on safety measures as they open their shops. These include keeping a distance of 2 meters between two people, not having more than 5 people in the store at a given time and keeping hygiene as the top priority by sanitizing the area and salesmen wearing masks at all times,” adds Kumar.

This report was contributed by knowledge partner: