Life is not easy for wine distributors as well who, due to a suddenly reduced market, are going through a period of extraordinary difficulty. Club Excellence, a company that since 2012 brings together 18 Italian wine and spirits distribution and import companies, two months after the Covid-19 containment measures started, takes stock of the performance of the sector.
Bars, restaurants, wine bars represent an important––if not the principal––clientele for importers and distributors. “In the first quarter,” explains director Lorenzo Righi, “the downturn in turnover was around 30% and by the end of April it could reach 50-60%.” These are important numbers that “threaten to undermine the entire distribution system of Italian wine, of many producers, winemakers, to the Horeca world, if appropriate commercial practices are not implemented in the name of fairness and solidarity”.
The Board of Directors of Club Excellence has decided to adopt joint guidelines, communicated to the Italian sales network, headed in the direction of responsibility and ethics. “The concept is ‘who can, should really pay’. The economic system, in fact, and above all that of the Italian fabric made up largely of small and medium-sized enterprises, would not have the possibility of overcoming this moment if everyone completely interrupted the liquidity flows”, underlines Righi recalling that the companies have decided to “honor the payment of invoices issued until the end of 2019, well before the onset of the crisis, when the market was still fully operational”. Among the Club’s decisions, there is supporting Horeca “through a series of delays, granted on 2020 invoices, which take into account the market halt, and the restoration phase”. Measures will be contextualized within the businesses of the individual members and are intended to be a “concrete support to the needs of customers affected by the emergency”.
Importers and distributors say they are against practices that undermine competition. “The future adoption of delivery on consignment (which provides for the payment to the supplier company only on items sold; Ed.), already feared by some as a solution to the crisis, is worrying, as the supply of a product without payment regulation as well as being unfair, it threatens the maintenance of a system of internal companies unable to offer the same conditions precisely by virtue of their conduct respectful of the rules”. Club Excellence is committed to reporting sales account activities or unfair competition practices at the Icqrf platform.