Despite the difficult times and strict lockdown measures imposed on Victorians right now, the state’s brewers have every reason to be optimistic, according to the director of Melbourne’s TR Consulting.
Director of the small business advisory firm TR Consulting, Tim Roberts, said that while there might be a looming “economic cliff”, federal government initiatives have kept the doors to many small and medium enterprises open.
Businesses like Bodriggy Brewing Co. have taken advantage of the grants and local supplier schemes by major retailers, whilst other brewers such as Brewmanity have adapted their business models to fit the Victorian experience.
With JobKeeper, cashflow boosts, Government part-secured bank loans and the measures reducing the risk to directors trading insolvent businesses, many Victorian and Australia-wide businesses have access to some form of help, even if it is fallible.
“While all the initiatives have fallen short in areas and created quirky and unattended outcomes, they have been implemented quickly and largely achieved what they intended too,” said Roberts.
Roberts said that his harshest criticism of the current JobKeeper regime was the requirement of cash-strapped small businesses to pay employees in advance of receiving the payments.
The government announced earlier this month that JobKeeper, a lifeline for small businesses, is being extended until 28th March 2021, with the existing JobKeeper payments in place until 27th September 2020.
From 28th September 2020, businesses seeking the payments will be required to reassess their eligibility, referencing turnover to prove they have been “significantly impacted” – businesses with aggregated turnover of $1 billion or less must show a decline of at least 30 per cent.
From then, payment rates will be stepped down and two tiers of payment will be introduced.
“My fear going forward is that the extended Jobkeeper program will not be sufficient to push out the financial cliff quickly approaching business owners,” said Roberts.
“My estimation is that only a third of current businesses will meet the updated eligibility criteria.”
“Victoria is no doubt hardest hit and the Victorian government has allocated $3 billion to put the local economy on life support,” said Roberts.
This includes payments of up to $20,000 for eligible employers, payroll tax refunds and legislation forcing landlords to work with business tenants impacted by COVID.
One of the industries most affected is inevitably hospitality businesses, and liquor licence waivers,
Under the Victorian government’s extended Business Support Fund programme, its business grants programme offers $10,000 for businesses in metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire in recognition of spending longer under restrictions, and $5,000 for businesses employing staff in other regional local government areas.
Local councils such as Brimbank Glen Eira and Darebin have launched community initiative and business recovery grants, whilst the Victorian government launched ‘Click for Vic’ over the weekend – a new campaign and database featuring the produce and products of local businesses as retailers and industry organisations also take the ‘buy local’ message to consumers.
“While many small operators have managed to pivot their business model and adapt, the vast majority are suffering.
“The personal toll this crisis is taking on business owners cannot be underestimated. Unlike the everyday worker they are using their life savings to keep the business afloat and they don’t have significant superannuation accounts to protect their futures.”
But, he said, it’s not all doom and gloom, especially in the world of beer, and after Victorian and other Australian breweries innovated with Communitinnies, Moon Dog’s Pub in a Box, and other mixed packs and initiatives to help them through.
“Generally alcohol consumption is not impacted during recessions. IBIS World forecasts remain bullish for beer manufacturing in Australia (SMEs) with growth expected to be at 10.4% annually from 2020 to 2025.
“ So for those able to navigate the choppy waters, they should be able to recover and dig themselves out of debt taken on during COVID, assuming we return to normal in 2021.
“As for how best to protect your business and plan to survive and flourish in the future we may be biased but we strongly recommend having an independent consultant build a robust plan and financial model that can guide your business going forward.”
For a comprehensive list of support available to Victorian businesses click here.
For business advice call AusIndustry on 13 28 46 or the Business Victoria hotline on 13 22 15.