Heineken has warned of temporary alcohol shortages in convenience stores following the reopening of hospitality in England in April.

In a letter sent to trade customers last month, and seen by betterRetailing, the company’s interim director (off trade) Jonathan Ford and supply chain director Matt Callan said changes in demand throughout convenience would continue to be “influenced heavily” by the reopening of pubs, restaurants and bars. Hospitality was allowed to resume outdoor trade on 12 April, with indoor service to restart on 17 May.

The brewer identified key premium brands such as Birra Moretti being impacted by the changing demand. In the letter, it said: “As you will be aware a proportion of hospitality opened on 12 April in England under the outdoor-only provision and, as a result of the combination of good weather and strong footfall, we have experienced higher than anticipated demand.

“While it is estimated that around 40% [of] outlets have been able to open, they are currently selling up to 100% of pre-Covid levels. Within this increase, we have also experienced particularly high demand on some of our key premium brands, such as Birra Moretti, reflecting a clear consumer shift towards premium as the pubs re-open.”

Despite the forecasted issues, Heineken assured its customers it has identified areas of improvement and has implemented plans to improve availability. It has also accounted demand when pubs reopened last year into its latest planning. Following the shortage of 440ml and 568ml cans across the industry continuing into this year, Heineken has put orders for canned stock on an allocation. The same process also applies to bottled stock.

“In response to this situation we have already increased our brewing plans to maximum and have also begun to source additional beer from our European network to supplement domestic production. While we expect this demand to peak over the coming weeks as the re-opening continues in line with government timings, it’s likely we may experience some temporary shortages across both on and off trade channels over the coming weeks.”

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