As we continue our series of features on how the current crisis has affected some of our good Scottish Gin friends around the country, we speak to Alyson Jamieson from Linlithgow Distillery, who tells us what they’ve been doing and their plans for the future. We’re dreaming of attending another of their amazing Gin Cruises again soon!
How has the Coronavirus crisis impacted your business so far?
With the closure of the pubs, restaurants, hotels and off-sales, around 85% of our income stream disappeared in one day. With just the 2 of us in the business we have been able to stay open and continue working, but supply chains have been severely impacted. We have also had to cancel the first 2 of our 4 planned LinGin canal cruises this summer. Our July and September cruises are still at the moment but we are keeping a close eye on continuing advice from the Scottish Government.
-What changes have you had to make to adapt to ‘the new normal’?
We shut down gin production in early March and switched to hand sanitiser. We have distributed in the region of 2,000 litres of sanitiser – charged to businesses and the public, which allowed us to donate free to charities and some frontline services and sell at cost to care companies, prisons, Police stations and other local businesses.
We also switched virtually all our sales to our online website and have created lots of fun and discounted packages on our products. The support of the public has been overwhelming in the past 2 months and if it wasn’t for them purchasing directly from us, I’m not sure we would be able to get through this.
What positives/upsides do you see in these weird times?
People are really beginning to realise the value of small businesses who are struggling to survive this lockdown and who do not have a supermarket shelf presence. Those businesses who have been able to switch to online orders and contactless deliveries are hopefully going to be able to see this through, but we are by no means out of the woods yet. The other great thing to see if people helping each other – just simple things but making an effort to be positive and change somebody’s day for the better.
How’s life at home?
Apart from not being able to see family, it’s just the same as before for us as we are still working. We had to take a couple of days off though to start sorting the garden out as all the neighbours’ gardens were looking lovely and ours was …… not lol!!
Probably our biggest personal impact has been the cancellation of our daughter’s wedding, due to have taken place on 5th June. Whilst it is not a death, or illness, or anything more serious, it has impacted us as a family and being unable to hug our daughter and her fiancé is incredibly difficult. Everything is now rearranged for next year but it now means we have both daughters getting married exactly 1 month apart!!
– What are your hopes and plans for:
1. the next few months
Start to see the lockdown easing by allowing us to meet up with family first, then see the small shops and services allowed to open.
We still have our Navy strength to launch and we have a couple of other special small batches almost ready to release too so we plan on releasing them soon.
2. the coming year
Gradually start to see the economy pick up – I fear there are going to be so many smaller companies unable to survive. Although we are still working and are now back distilling gin again, until the bars, restaurants and off-sales are up and running again and we start to see orders coming back through, we are still in a very precarious situation but if we can maintain our online sales at the current rate then we are quietly optimistic that we will still be here at the end of 2020, along with a buoyant hospitality sector springing back up.
We are also re-branding this year so we really want to see that come to fruition later this year.
– How do you think this will affect the Scottish Gin industry as a whole?
We could see a few of the smaller brands maybe disappearing – perhaps because they have been unable to continue working through this, or they have had to find alternative employment or have just decided enough is enough. It could be that we see some amalgamation of brands but first and foremost, I really hope the hospitality sector manages to re-open soon and gets back on its feet. Our streets are not the same with all the pubs closed.
Time will tell on all of this – but we are determined that Linlithgow Distillery will still be here in 6 months’ time!
WE WILL SURVIVE!!!!!!!!! Cue song ………………