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Diversifying . . . Scotts Brewing Co front of house manager Courtney Linwood (left), operations manager Brooke Kofoed and crew member Francesca Johnstone are busy with takeaway orders in the wake of Covid-19. PHOTO: REBECCA RYAN

Oamaru businesses are bracing themselves as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to escalate. But, as Rebecca Ryan reports, uncertainty can be a breeding ground of creativity and innovation.

At Scotts Brewing Co, staff are at the heart of the business, brewery manager Tyla Scott says.

While Mrs Scott had “every confidence” the Oamaru brewery would weather the Covid-19 storm, diversifying business and reacting to the pandemic as soon as possible to avoid putting jobs at risk had become the business’ top priority.

As fewer people were choosing to drink and dine out, Mrs Scott said takeaway options were becoming a much bigger focus of the business.

This week, Scotts Brewing Co is launching an online platform for local takeaway orders, and beer deliveries across the country.

“We’re even contemplating doing [takeaway] deliveries [locally], which may help to offset the lack of people on site [and] utilise our staff,” she said.

“Everybody still has to have a beer and a pizza every now and then.”

At present, Scotts Brewing Co employs 35 staff.

“That’s our number one priority right now . . . looking after the crew that have supported us in business so well,” Mrs Scott said.

Most of Scotts Brewing Co’s suppliers were New Zealand-based, so brewing was not affected, and increasing the company’s presence in supermarkets across the country was another major focus.

Cucina restaurant had also started offering takeaways, to give staff the same amount of hours and help customers avoid unnecessary interaction.

Head chef Pablo Tacchini said about half of the restaurant’s bookings made for this week and next had been cancelled.

He said people had been too afraid to come into restaurants and he wanted to make it easier for them.

Cucina was also working on an online platform for takeaway orders.

Oamaru Business Collective founder Annabel Berry said Scotts Brewing Co and Cucina’s efforts were great examples of how businesses could be creative and innovative at a difficult and uncertain time.

“In the tough times people start thinking outside the box,” Mrs Berry said.

Several other Oamaru businesses already offered, or were investigating launching, online services, she said.

“So if you’re not wanting to come in to stores, supporting businesses through their online stores is a brilliant way that you can support local,” she said.

Next week, Mrs Berry is meeting with Waitaki District Council economic development manager Gerard Quinn and other local business representatives to discuss ways of supporting each other through the Covid-19 pandemic.

“It is going to be tough for some businesses over the next few months,” she said.

“But this is the time when we really need to lean on each other and support each other.”

  • Additional reporting Otago Daily Times