Somerset craft cider producer Harry’s Cider Company has turned the tables on what could have been a devastating year for the family-run business, attracting a host of new customers since the first Covid-19 lockdown earlier this year. Despite losing around 70% of its trade sales overnight when the first lockdown forced the closure of pubs, bars and restaurants, Harry’s Cider has seen an impressive boost in consumer sales since the end of March, lifting overall figures back up to almost 75% of where they were before.
This has meant the business was able to go ahead with plans to recruit an apprentice cider maker, and 20-year-old Jack from Curry Rivel has just completed his first harvest.
Founding cider maker Harry Fry said, “When the first lockdown came in, everything was turned upside down and we had no real idea of how long it would last. May to September is normally our busiest time of the year, yet the pubs and restaurants were all closed, and we couldn’t visit most of our customers, or attend the many shows and events we would normally take part in. It was a challenging time but we turned our attention to selling cider via our website instead, as well as supporting our retailers and food service distributors, and it’s gone surprisingly well, all things considered.
“As a result, we were able to go ahead with plans to recruit our first apprentice cider maker. After interviewing a number of enthusiastic applicants, Jack started with us just in time to help pick this year’s apples. We completed the harvest at the end of October and were able to utilise the vast majority of our crop, although we did have a lower yield than usual this year, possibly due to the extremely wet autumn last year. That said, the quality of the apples is excellent so we know we can maintain the high standards of cidermaking that we’ve become known for.”
Harry’s partner Alison Chapman, who oversees finance and marketing at Harry’s Cider Company, added, “Consumer sales via our website have increased threefold since March, and farm gate sales have more than doubled, with our sparkling ciders and three litre traditional cider pouches proving particularly popular.
“We are extremely grateful to the many customers who have visited our farm and website this year to buy their cider, as well as to the retailers, farm shops, village shops and off licences that stock our products as they have helped us to maintain sales of our bottled ciders almost pound for pound against last year. We’re also delighted to have recently started supplying the Morrisons supermarkets in Taunton, Glastonbury and Wincanton, making it even easier for many local people to get their hands on our cider!
“Now, as we find ourselves in this second national lockdown, we remain positive in our outlook. We continue to prioritise deliveries to our customers across the county, as well as maintaining our farm gate presence, all the while observing any social distancing measures that are in place.”
Harry’s Cider Company is taking part in this year’s Virtual Bath Christmas Market and is offering free nationwide delivery on online orders over £30 between now and the end of the year.
Although its cider tours are temporarily suspended, the Harry’s Cider farm in Long Sutton remains open to the public between 10am and 5pm from Monday to Friday and between 10am and 4pm on Saturdays, with all visitors asked to wear face coverings and follow social distancing guidelines.
More information can be found at www.harryscidercompany.co.uk.