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Diageo spending £4m to help revive Scottish pubs

Bars have been in hibernation for three months (pic: Terry Murden)

Johnnie Walker whisky owner Diageo is expected to spend £4 million supporting the recovery of pubs and bars in Scotland as they ease their way out of three months of lockdown.

The funding will be part of an £80m ($100m) worldwide support programme for the drinks retail sector over two years.

The “Raising the Bar” scheme will help bar owners deal with hygiene issues and pay for practical equipment to transform how their outlets will work.

The fund includes £16m allocated to a Community Fund in the United States, leaving £64m to be shared globally.

Bars will get support with the cost of hand sanitiser and a range of personal protection equipment, such as masks and gloves, as well as help with online reservations and cashless systems, mobile bars and outdoor equipment.  

In order to qualify for support, bars must have been operating for at least 12 months before any national or local lockdown restrictions due to Covid-19.

They must demonstrate at least one way in which they plan to “Raise the Bar” in their community, such as promoting inclusion and diversity and job-creation in disadvantaged communities, or promoting positive drinking and tackling harm or anti-social behaviour.

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Ivan Menezes, chief executive of the company behind other brands such as Guinness and Gordon’s Gin, commented: “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 UN’s International Labour Organisation has forecast that 436 million enterprises worldwide face serious disruption and one in six young people will be unemployed due to COVID-19.

The hospitality sector will be one of the hardest hit, as pubs, bars, clubs and restaurants provide hundreds of millions of jobs for many full and part-time workers.

Roddy Smith, CEO of business improvement district Essential Edinburgh, said: “There are huge financial and logistical issues facing hospitality businesses re-opening safely.

Colin Wilkinson, managing director of the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, said it will “kick-start the industry”.

He added: “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.”



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