Banks looks to Bajans
Banks?remains the beer of choice in this country but some Barbadians are not that loyal to the local brew, says chief executive officer of Banks Holdings Ltd (BHL), Richard Cozier.
He wants Barbadians to be more nationalistic in how they approach local brands.
Cozier made the call after presiding over the BHL’s Award of Excellence prize-giving ceremony at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre yesterday.
“You can’t sell a Jamaican anything other than a Red Stripe. You can’t sell a Trinidadian anything but a Stag or a Carib, but you can sell a Barbadian anything.
“Barbadians are the least product loyal consumers in the Caribbean, bar none.
We get plenty of support from Barbadians but it does not compare to what the Jamaican or Trinidadian breweries [receive],” he said.
The Banks boss said Barbadians loved experimenting.
“They are motivated to try things and are probably more worldly because of tourism, but every time someone experiments with a Hairoun, Heineken or Carib, that is one less sale for us,” he said.
Cozier said that the company’s latest brew, Deputy, had exceeded expectations and had proven to be a huge hit with the public.
“Deputy did embarrass us in the initial stages; we could not keep up with the demand. We had targeted 5 000 to 6 000 cases a month and ended up doing 17 000 to 20 000,” he revealed.
Though noting that his company had done reasonably well once more, Cozier said this year would be tough and Banks was looking at opportunities in mainland Europe and Cuba.
“One must remember that in those big markets there are a lot of brands . . . already and [they are] very price-conscious and aggressive . . . . We would have to be able to have a good proposition and also to get the right price for the support of the consumer there,” he said.
But Cozier said he believed his company could survive the prevailing economic storm.
“I think that Barbadians have shown throughout time that they are resilient people. This is not the first crisis that we have come across and it will certainly not be the last time; I hope it is the last in my lifetime.”
He made it clear Banks was committed to working closely with Government and the farmers on the issue of pricing.
“Our dairy farmers have not had an increase for a number of years. We don’t make any great amount of money on milk – we barely cover our expenses – so there is a proposal which we jointly offered with them to Government to provide a subsidy at the farm level so that the milk can come to us at a better price, where we then can put it on the supermarket shelf at a better price and expand their supply to us,” he said.
Cozier said this proposal could be a win-win for all.
“Everyone will benefit. The consumer will see a price reduction, the farmers will see more milk coming through the dairy [and] the dairy will get more efficient by being able to process more milk.
“We will replace, where we can, some of our formulations, replace powder with milk from the local farmers. It will open up exports for us once we can get that pricing right.”