From alcohol brewers down to the bars in the country, businesses are incurring losses, with many having already closed shop since government prohibited selling of alcohol, to tighten restrictions meant to curb the spread of Covid19.
An entire street at Kisimenti in Remera behind Equity Bank, where most bars are located, has become a ghost area as new restrictions ordered closure of bars.
Bars like Bahamas and others have already thrown in the towel and returned premises back to landlords, as they couldn’t afford incurring more costs without making any income.
In the first half of the year, Bralirwa, the country’s leading brewer recorded a 5.4 per cent fall in revenues to Rwf44.6billion from Rwf77.1billion recorded in 2019.
The company also saw a 3.4 per cent decrease in volumes due to what it called “a challenging market environment exasperated by the effects of the Covid19 pandemic”.
“Due to a challenging Covid-19 situation, we were not able to deliver top line growth in the first half of the year.
Both volume and revenue decreased respectively mainly driven by the impact of Covid-19 pandemic,” said Merid Demissie, vice chairman of the Board and managing director of Bralirwa.
Profit and total income for the first half of the year grew by 70.6 per cent to Rwf3.9billion from Rwf2.3billion in 2019.
“The good performance half year 2020 is driven by bottom line management. In order to drive further performance Bralirwa will continue to invest in its brands and people” he said.
Although Bralirwa exports some of its products to Democratic Republic of Congo, most of its beer and soft drink products are consumed locally, and the Covid-19 restrictions that have been in place for the longest part of the year continue to have a strong negative impact on its sales.
Faustin Dukuzumuremyi, a manager at Master Grill Bar and Restaurant in Remera, said it is now take long without even buying soft drinks from Bralirwa because when alcohol is not sold even consumption of other beverages reduces drastically.
“Alcohol drives everything else, since the bar part of the business was closed, we have registered an 80 per cent reduction in consumption of non-alcoholic drinks and a 60 per cent reduction in food consumption,” he said.
“Some of our neighbours who only had a bar section have closed shop, we are operating the restaurant, but the hopes of operating long term are thinning every day.
“We have lost customers who used to come in groups, people come to drink then eat, when alcohol is out of the picture they don’t come at all, the 7 pm curfew has also seriously affected us” he said.
As a way of preserving its cash flow to cushion itself from these turbulent times, Bralirwa Plc suspended dividend payouts to its shareholders this year.