Diageo launches $100m fund to help pubs and bars recover from lockdown

Drinks giant Diageo will spend US$100 million on a two-year campaign called Raising the Bar, designed to help bars get up and running again in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

The fund will be available from July for the next two years, and will provide practical support to pubs and bars to reopen and operate safely after months of coronavirus-induced hibernation.

The company, which makes Irish stout Guinness, will provide $100 million to support hospitality businesses in cities all over the world including: New York, London, Edinburgh, Dublin, Belfast, Mexico City, Sao Paulo, Shanghai, Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Nairobi, Dar es Salaam, Kampala, and Sydney and beyond.

Support will come in the form of:

  • ‘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 establish partnerships with online reservation platforms and cashless systems
  • Mobile bars
  • Outdoor equipment.

This $100 million programme includes the $20 million Community Fund first announced in the United States on 12 June 2020, nearly £30million ($24.89m) for pubs and bars across the UK, with £4million of that earmarked for Scottish businesses.

Raising the Bar was put together following a global survey of bar owners to find out what they need to reopen after lockdown.

Their top priorities included hygiene measures, digital support and practical equipment to transform how their outlets will work.

Bar owners will receive regular updates on best practice training, and will also be invited to participate in more surveys that will provide a database of sorts for Diageo employees rolling out the fund.

This is the latest, and largest, support fund Diageo has launched since lockdowns came into place around the world.

Last month, Diageo pledged AU$1.2 million (US$825,000) to help its on-trade partners reopen across Australia. The ‘Welcome Back’ support package will provide 130,000 free serves to bar partners, as well as help with PR and marketing, to help ramp up sales.

Earlier this month, Diageo created a Community Fund worth $20 million to support businesses, consumers and partners central to the hospitality industry in black communities across the US. The Smirnoff vodka maker said this will involve targeted donations supporting advocacy efforts as part of the economic recovery from Covid-19, training for business owners and employees, and relief aid.

Diageo also launched a £1m hospitality support fund at the start of the UK’s own coronavirus lockdown in March.

Ivan Menezes, chief executive of Diageo said the fund should not replace long-term government support for the hospitality sector.

“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,” he said.

“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.”

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