Alcohol ban cripples breweries – retrenchment of workers last resort for brewer
The prohibition of liquor sales halted the operations of the brewery industry over the 5 to6 weeks, according to Marco Wenk, Managing Director of Namibia Breweries Limited.
Wenk in a statement Friday confirmed that retrenchments would be an absolute last resort at the company.
According to Wenk the prolonged ban on alcohol will start to impact finished and unfinished stock write-offs of significant proportions for the company in the near future.
“Yes, it is very unfortunate that our industry has been brought to a virtual standstill, but we are committed to comply with the directives and are using this time to work with other industry players and stakeholders to ensure that safe and responsible trade can resume without delay,” Wenk said.
He explained the company instituted various cost cutting measures including salary reductions for executives, while the rest of more than 900 employees have thus far continued to receive their full pay.
Wenk noted that export markets such as Zambia and Tanzania, where alcohol sales are permitted, would be resumed, but come with significant route to market challenges and costs, making these options less viable.
“While we still need to assess the overall impact of Covid-19 on our business going forward, we are extremely concerned about the prolonged prohibition of alcohol sales. Should this not come to an end soon, we would have to take some tough decisions in the interest of sustaining our business,” Wenk said.
Wenk raised concern over the impact which the prohibition has on over 300,000 Namibians who are linked directly and indirectly to both the formal as well as informal alcohol trade and while he applauded government for their immediate and decisive actions to curb the spread of Covid, he stressed that it is vital for a balance between ensuring the health and wellbeing of the nation be found.
“It is thus imperative that we need to find an urgent solution and work with all stakeholders to forge sustainable and practical ways of working in the interest of our industry,” Wenk said.
Caption: Namibia Breweries Limited (NBL) Managing Director, Marco Wenk.