IMPORTANT Update on Coronavirus from Cave Direct
‘Strange and uncertain times’ a term that has been bandied about a lot over the last few months,
and rightly so, the world has not seen a crisis like this in most of our lifetimes and with the world
being a much smaller place it’s brought on bigger challenges. In our 41-year history here a Cave
Direct we have seen recessions, buildings crash and walls fall – but nothing can really prepare a
business for an event that sees its entire customer base close overnight.
Our industry became fractured and little advice was being shared from the powers above, it was
difficult to know what would happen next and how this crisis would affect our team of 75 staff. New
terminologies become normal during Covid and none more so than furlough, a lifeline extended to
us but the Government. 75 become 15 and three out of our four warehouses shut their doors. No
industry was unaffected by the Covid crisis, but none more so than the pub and restaurant
businesses who were ordered to close, putting an end to draught beer sales. Within that ‘craft beer’
was one of the worst hit, due to its dependence on draught beer and the move towards ‘drink fresh’
hoppy nature of the beers.
We were going to have to adapt to survive this period of lock down and luckily, we were not alone,
with many of you trying new and novel ways to keep your business moving. In March with only a
hand full of you still able to order we quickly switched our focus to our much smaller consumer
facing side of the business – Beer Merchants our home delivery service. This allowed us to continue
getting beer out to the masses and stopped our worst fears of this blowing over and us being left
with a warehouse full of spoiled beer becoming a reality. Additionally, with the support of many of
you the beer continued to flow and with a fraction of our usual team working the gears at Cave HQ
have continued to spin, all be it, much slower. As March become April and no sign of lockdown
becoming eased the innovation continued with growlers, mini kegs and milk cartons becoming the
‘new normal’. Another sign of relief as our cold store started to empty. Business has slowed,
considerably, but it has not stopped and much to our surprise we have continued to get fresh beer in
As lockdown starts to ease and the shackles are slowly lifted from our industry many of you are
asking questions about what to do with beer that have has been gathering dust in your cellar since
lockdown was announced? We will be sending out a questionnaire that you will receive within the
next week so we can help you decide what beer is still good to drink, which breweries are swapping
old for new and which beers you will need to destroy to receive the duty back. A big reason why
many of you like Cave so much is the variety of beers from all over the world and we pride ourselves
on working with breweries big and small, as long as the beer is good. Every brewery is different
though and like you, each brewery has approached and adapted to the pandemic in different ways,
with their policy on stock differing. To complicate the matter, differing countries have different rules
and laws too. So, although sales have slowed, many of us have been busy trying to work out the best
ways to help support you when things get up and running again.
What’s next we hear you ask?
Once we receive your questionnaire and it is confirmed that restrictions for bars and restaurants will be lifted,
in some capacity and they are allowed to open on the 4th of July.
Hopefully on July 4th restrictions on pubs and restaurants will be lifted and we hope the trade will begin to reopen,
although it’s very difficult to gauge what it will look like with social distancing rules still in place
and many questions remaining unanswered.
We will be putting in place a delivery service the prior week for those of you who will require a fresh
stock before the confirmed opening and we will start to delivery beer directly again using our own
drivers. We have made essential steps to improve their safety when packing and delivering with the
necessary PPE equipment and the continuation of social distancing measures.
If you have beer in your cellar that has gone off over the lockdown period, you can fill out this form
and return it to us. As already stated, there is no one size fits all policy on returns, and it depends on
what the brewery is willing to do. We ask that any returns forms are filled in and sent back to us by
the 31 st July. We will not be able to process any returns after this date. We also urge you to use the
beer where possible as the returns process will not be instant and claiming back duty, for example
will be a lengthy process.
• Not all beer will be eligible for a replacement.
• Most beers will be eligible for a duty refund. Duty is dependent on brewery size and ABV so
will differ dramatically from brewery to brewery and ABV.
• Once the form is fully completed your rep will be in touch regarding the next stage in the process.
• Claims can only be made against unopened kegs or full cases bbd date 20/03/2020 and
31/07/2020 and must have been purchased in 2020. This form must be returned by 31/07/2020.
We have worked tirelessly over the last 40 years to bring new exciting beers to the UK, build great
relationships with all of you and play a small part in making beer what it is today in the UK. We will
continue to do our best to support you all during, what has been a very difficult few months and
look forward to enjoying a beer with you soon, albeit from a safe distance.