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I continually stop and pinch myself at the speed at which the world has changed since the early days of this pandemic.  It seems extraordinary to think that it was all but seven weeks ago that I was sitting in a restaurant – it seems like an eternity.   On the other hand, home cooking has never been so imaginative – I’m really rather enjoying it.  What was it today?  Prawns for lunch?  On a Monday no less?  Wow, what a treat!

But what of Hannibal Brown?  Until seven weeks ago, we’d been planning the continued development and expansion of our corporate wine business and label personalisation (check out www.personalisedwinedesign.co.uk) which we’ve grown over the last four years.  But the pandemic put paid to those plans literally overnight, with pretty much the entire nation closing their doors indefinitely.

Then there were our external events – Badminton Horse Trials, the Hay International Book Festival and our own seasonal consumer wine events – all cancelled until further notice – another colossal blow to our revenues.

But then the signs of a silver lining – our newly developed website (thank you 3Mil!), ready and able to cope with an unexpected yet welcome influx in online wine sales.  Could we manage?  Were our systems sufficiently robust to cope with an online spike?  It got me thinking about the virtues of being small and nimble with a great team of capable people, able to react fast to a change in customer demand when all around us we were hearing of larger retails unable to supply, not able to deliver and some even closing their doors.

In truth, the few service issues we have faced were solved thanks to small, like-minded, local businesses jumping in to help out and we thank them and won’t forget them.

We’ve taken massive learnings from this enforced lockdown – the need for imagination, open-mindedness, constantly re-thinking and re-formulating, and never, ever losing belief.  Who would have thought that the idea of a hosted ‘virtual’ wine tasting could become so popular?  Now we have dozens of households taking part.  Then there’s our DIY tasting kits – literally a kit, including wine, with which to hold your own wine tasting?  Simple!  And as for our foray into social media live streaming, who’d have thought people would want to tune in a watch us live on a Sunday evening?  Well, it turns out they do!

People have been so embracing to change, it’s refreshing to see the nation’s resilience in times of challenge and restriction.

Let’s stick together everyone – we’re gonna get through this.