As I raised a glass of alcohol-free sparkling Pearl Blanc wine last night I reflected on the year that had just ended and thought about the year ahead.
We’ve had all the celebrity deaths and the election of Donald Trump, but Brexit has been the single biggest event affecting The Alcohol-Free Shop.
We don’t know how things will pan out long term, but in the short-term the Pound has slumped against the Euro – dropping from around 1.40 to under 1.20 (and at some points under 1.10).
Nearly all our drinks come from the EU so it makes a big difference to us. Despite increases in costs to us, we’ve held off raising prices – but rises are inevitable.
Despite this, it’s been a great year for us at The Alcohol-Free Shop. We marked our 10th anniversary in 2016 and saw a very healthy growth in sales and customers as we have every year since we started in 2006.
We’ve also been happy to help those less fortunate by donating zero-alcohol drinks to charities and worthy causes including an event to welcome Syrian refugees in December.
We faced a few problems. All couriers are overstretched at Christmas which means more mistakes and more breakages. There was a shortage of haulage vehicles to transport goods from the continent. A combination of higher-than-expected December sales, and external failures beyond our control (one wagon left Germany with someone else’s pallets…), led to stock shortages in the last few weeks.
On the positive side, we’ve seen many improvements and laid the foundation for new developments in 2017.
We launched a new version of our web site. Our site is now easy to use on mobiles and tablets making ordering more convenient for existing and new customers. We’ll continue making improvements in 2017.
Switching to the new site in December is one of the ‘bravest’ decisions we’ve made. But, apart from the odd teething problem which were quickly fixed, it went smoothly, helped our growth this month and made our customers happier.
The website changes are just the start of a much bigger set of improvements to better serve our customers.
We have some very exciting plans that we’ll share with you as soon as we can.
As always, I’d like to thank every single person who has supported us this year. Every time someone places an order we appreciate the trust you show in us.
The demand for zero-alcohol drinks is growing in the UK and we’re proud of the part we’ve played to help this since 2006.
More people are moving in to the market and the choice of who to buy from is growing. Despite that increased competition, we’ve continued to grow and our regular customers – some from our first week in 2006 – come back to us time and time again.
We always try to go the extra mile for our customers. This time it was 300. Almost.
In the run-up to Christmas, everyone’s rushing to plan the perfect festive season.
At The Alcohol-Free Shop, we’re part of many of those plans. Our customers look to us to help create great memories and we do our very best to keep our promises.
But sometimes things go wrong. Couriers lose parcels, tasks are overlooked in the whirl of activity, sometimes bottles are broken – and that means sometimes our promises are too.
We rely on producers to make the drinks we sell, transport companies to deliver them to us from around the world, and courier companies to deliver them to you. Even when we do our best, a problem with any part of this chain can cause other problems for us and, more importantly, our customers.
One customer was seriously ill and undergoing chemotherapy. He was looking forward to joining in the fun by raising a glass of alcohol-free wine with his family and making it a Christmas to remember.
He ordered six bottles of wine but we were told by the courier that the goods were damaged in transit and couldn’t be salvaged.
It was too late to get a replacement out to the customer by courier. He simply wasn’t going to get his wine for Christmas Day.
Unless we delivered it ourselves.
Every person who works at The Alcohol-Free Shop puts the customer first and makes an extraordinary effort to get things right.
We understood how much this Christmas meant to him.
Our co-founder, Chris Humphreys, put her own plans on hold to play Santa and save his day. She may not have Santa’s beard, but she showed she certainly has the heart.
She booked train tickets for a nine-hour round trip to hand-deliver the wines on Christmas Eve.
She left home before dawn to travel to Manchester to collect the wine at The Alcohol-Free Shop for the onward journey south.
With the tickets, and box of wine, in hand Chris was within 30 minutes of boarding the train for the next leg of the 300-mile journey when the customer reported his wine had arrived. One bottle was broken, but all was not lost.
The day was saved; the train ticket costs and time were not.
But Christine could now go home to spend the day with her family.
And the customer will enjoy his family Christmas as planned – and that’s what matters most to us.
Merry Christmas from everyone at The Alcohol-Free Shop!
The popular martini-style Palermo Blanco and Palermo Rouge and our creamy Blancart Anis for lovers of Pernot are always in demand during the festive season.
Fresh stock of these three drinks, plus the sweet and sour Venezzio bitters – loved by those who like Campari – are due to arrive from France today and can be pre-ordered to secure your share.
All your best-loved Spanish cocktails arrived yesterday along with the exotic Cloudem party drinks to add glitz to any occasion.
Don’t forget the fantastic Shatler’s ready-to-serve cocktails that include only the finest ingredients to create a flavour sensation worthy of the finest mixologist. Shake the can, pour over crushed ice and serve in seconds!
Offer a warm welcome with Alpine gluwein
Your favourite Carl Jung wines are due back in stock any moment along with a delicious new gluwein.
Carl Jung Mulled Wine is a spiced with cloves and cinnamon and traditionally served warm during the winter months. It’s ideal for guests at outdoor events or as a welcome drink after coming in from the cold.