I was recently invited to participate in a Harpers webinar on collaboration and innovation (click here to view). The focus was how the twin impacts of COVID-19 and Brexit have forced businesses within the wine industry to take stock, look at the changes that happened over the last year or so and consider how best to use collaboration as a force for change going forward.


The round table panel discussion, titled “Collaboration as a Force for Change”, was hosted by Jo Gilbert, Features Editor, Harpers, and as well as myself included:

  • Erik Laan, MD, The Vineking
  • Jamie Wynne-Griffiths, Founder and MD, Wild Ferment
  • Jon Carson, Director, Carson & Carnevale Wines

Key topics of discussion

The main topics discussed included:

  • What channel innovation has taken place as a result of the impact of the pandemic and Brexit.
  • Whether the changing business environment has led to greater synergies between suppliers and customers.
  • The future of groupage and collaborative importing in the post-Brexit business landscape.

Much of the conversation centred on the difficulties that the wine industry had overcome over the last 15 months. But I was pleasantly surprised at the level of optimism that all the speakers felt about the future of the wine industry as it comes out from underneath the twin clouds of COVID-19 and Brexit.

Surprising outcomes from a difficult trading period

It was clear that there have been a number of surprising outcomes as a result of this difficult trading period, including:

  • Virtual tastings are here to stay – A number of panellists commented on the success of online events and tastings and agreed that this was an innovation that would continue long after the pandemic had ended.
  • Collaboration is key to survival for many businesses – Panellists agreed that difficulties in the on-trade wine business has led to companies seeking out new opportunities to work with different kinds of partners. Re-pivoting a business as the economy recovers and on-trade starts to reopen is another challenge which drinks companies face.
  • Brexit is now the challenge – There was unanimous agreement that COVID-19 has hidden the true impact that Brexit has had, and will continue to have, on the wine industry. Speakers agreed that groupage and collaborative importing initiatives such as piggybacking will be vital in the future. In order for this to be a success, there needs to be open and honest conversations between the partners.
  • Strong partnerships have been key. Whether having a reliable freight forwarder, drinks suppliers who value the UK market and your business, or even ostensible competitors who you’re sharing a shipment with. These partnerships have often been built up over years and have proved more important than ever.
  • Now is the time to embrace technology – As well agreeing how important technology has been for both remote working and online trading over the last year, panellists also expressed a desire for government to do more to embrace technology advances as a way to deal with the post-Brexit administration issues. There was a keen belief that government should be able to devise a better digital solution for issues such as EX1 export forms that would smooth out the administration problems caused by Britain leaving the EU.

It is this last point – the need for the wine industry to embrace technology during this difficult trading time – that we, here at Bevica, have had the most experience of over the last year. We have seen the real business benefits of moving software systems, such as ERP, to the cloud when the realities of long-term remote working began to hit home for companies. With all the potential additional costs, whether direct or indirect, accurately accounting for these in a time efficient manner is more crucial than ever – something which Bevica can really help with. We have also seen how Bevica, as a dedicated ERP system for the drinks industry, has given our clients the real-time data they needed to make critical operational decisions in the difficult trading conditions of 2020 and early 2021.

About Bevica

Developed over the last 20 years and powered by Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central, Bevica is a powerful best practice ERP software solution that has been designed specifically for the drinks industry. Bevica is a Silver Patron of WineGB. For more information about Bevica and how it can help your business, click here.

By Ben Marriott, Implementation Consultant, Bevica