Diageo launches £4m recovery fund for Scottish pubs and bars

Whisky giant Diageo has announced that it will be allocating £4 million of funding for pubs and bars in Scotland as part of a global initiative to help the hospitality sector recover from the coronavirus crisis. 

Diageo launches £4m recovery fund for Scottish pubs and bars

The funding is part of a new $100m global programme called “Raising the Bar”.

The initiative will be a two-year programme available from July 2020. 

Through “Raising the Bar”, Diageo will provide $100m to support the recovery of major hospitality centres, including: New York, London, Edinburgh, Dublin, Belfast, Mexico City, Sao Paulo, Shanghai, Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Nairobi, Dar es Salaam, Kampala, Sydney and beyond. This $100m programme includes the $20m Community Fund announced in the United States on 12 June 2020.

Diageo designed the “Raising the Bar” programme following a global survey of bar owners to identify what they need to reopen after lockdown. Their top priorities include hygiene measures, digital support and practical equipment to transform how their outlets will work. 

The  programme will provide targeted support to help pay for the physical equipment needed for outlets to re-open. For example, in the UK, Diageo will provide initial funding for: ‘hygiene kits’ with high-quality permanent sanitiser dispense units, medical grade hand sanitiser and a range of personal protection equipment (such as masks and gloves); help to pubs and bars to establish partnerships with online reservations and cashless systems; mobile bars and outdoor equipment. 

From 24 June 2020, bar owners will be able to register their interest for the programme here globally and here in the UK and Ireland. Bar owners will receive regular updates on best practice training and resources and be able to participate in global surveys to share insights, as they build back their businesses.

Ivan Menezes, chief executive of Diageo, said: “Pubs and bars sit at the heart of every community. We have launched “Raising the Bar” as so many outlets have been impacted by this crisis and badly need help to open their doors again.

“We are calling on governments around the world to provide long-term recovery packages to help the hospitality sector. These businesses play an essential role in bringing people together to socialise and celebrate – something that we have all missed so much during this terrible crisis – and sustain hundreds of millions of jobs, which provide a first foot on the employment ladder for young people.”

The impact of COVID-19 on the hospitality sector has been widespread, with the closure of venues the world over. As governments begin to ease lockdown measures, the public want to come together again to connect with their community and socialise safely. By providing access to free digital support, technology, training and equipment, Diageo aims to help any bar, anywhere open its doors again.

Roddy Smith, CEO of Business Improvement District Essential Edinburgh, said: “There are huge financial and logistical issues facing hospitality businesses re-opening safely, ‘Raise the Bar’ will provide much needed assistance and will be a vital life-line for Edinburgh’s hospitality businesses and will help to support one of the key job sectors.”

Emma McClarkin, CEO of the Scottish Beer & Pub Association, added: “This announcement today from Diageo will be enthusiastically welcomed by operators who are desperate to re-open their pubs, get trading again, welcome customers back and play their part in the economic recovery.

“The hospitality sector has been one of the hardest hit as a result of the pandemic, with pubs and bars now closed for over three months and its impact likely to be felt by the trade for a long time into the future. With over 50,000 jobs dependent on pubs and bars, we are an integral part of the national economy and communities across the country – it is vital we get up and running again soon, and this initiative will help support that.”

Colin Wilkinson, managing director of the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, said: “The announcement of Diageo’s Raising the Bar fund, to support Scotland’s pubs and bars to begin not just reopening, but rebuilding their businesses, is very much welcomed by the SLTA and its members. This will greatly support the kick-start of the industry which needs to begin as soon as possible.

“Scotland’s on-trade will need substantial ongoing support for many months ahead and this support from within the Scottish drinks industry is fantastic news and will set an example of support which the Scottish Government must follow if the sector is to survive. Diageo are certainly to be congratulated on this initiative.”

  • Read all of our articles relating to COVID-19 here.
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