Move to boost bar business

Business

Move to boost bar business

Beverage companies pour $28 million into bar recovery initiative

BY KELLARAY MILES
Business reporter
milesk@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

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AS community bars and taverns across the country reopen, a coalition of beverage companies have joined forces to pump over $28 million in financial support towards reviving and providing a wide range of resources needed for the sector to recover.

The project, dubbed For our Bars: For Jamaica/Fi Di Bar Dem, Fi Jamaica, is an initiative spearheaded by Red Stripe, Pepsi, Celebration Brands Limited (CBL) and the Desnoes & Geddes (D&G) Foundation.

Their combined efforts are aimed at supporting the recovery of community bars as a direct response to the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The project is expected to kick-start on May 25th.

The injection of funds forms part of a public-private sector partnership which will see more than 1,865 of the island's 11,000 plus community bars accessing direct support by way of receiving some 6000 complimentary cases of Red Stripe and Pepsi product for restocking, the provision of over 4000 masks [face shields], and approximately 2000 gallons of hand sanitiser courtesy of the D&G Foundation, along with business-relevant training for bartenders and bar operators. This training will focus heavily on capacity building with emphasis on financial management, business retooling and continuity plans.

Luis Prata, managing director at Red Stripe while speaking in a virtual announcement of the programme yesterday, said that his company's decision to support the initiative was a no-brainer, as bars form an important part of the social and economic catalyst.

“We acknowledge community bars as key sources of employment and a critical economic driver. While they are small, community bars play too big a role in our economy to fail. We know they need help to get back on their feet.

“These outlets are highly valued partners of Red Stripe and we will indeed make significant time and effort to facilitate the smooth and successful transitions to the new normal. The 'For our Bars' initiative will help to ensure business continuity for bars post-COVID[-19], help to minimise structural dislocations resulting from the pandemic, help restore employment for the workers in the sector, and activate additional support from providers,” he said.

The Government recently lifted the restriction on bars and taverns, allowing them the opportunity to operate in a limited time frame and under strict health and safety guidelines in an effort to restart the economy.

The other stakeholders including Edwin Vaquerano, CBL managing director; Alejandro Sacasa, general manager of Pepsi, likewise agreed that the end goal of the initiative is to ensure the survival of an important network of small businesses.

Keith Duncan, chairman of the private sector's COVID-19 Economic Recovery Task Force, for his part lauded the effort of the beverage companies for this major launch aimed at getting community bars restarted. He deemed the initiative a forerunner and a true example which should inspire other industry players to come on board.

“We believe that what is in the best interest of Jamaica is what we should stand for as a country, and us working together in public-private sector partnership really makes our economy, people, bars and the entire fabric of society stronger and tight-knit. I believe the community bars are an integral part of our community structure. They provide that place where our people can relax, recreate and enjoy themselves to [rid] the stresses of life. We are happy for the support of these corporate giants in coming on board to help,” he said.

Dianne-Ashton Smith, head of corporate relations at Red Stripe, said the initaive is strong because of the industry partners who have come on board to support the bars, and she welcomed other companies to join in the venture.

“We encourage other industry players to join us in this movement; we really want to have the power of community as part of our way of giving back to our community bars who need it more. This movement is about creating a better and sustainable future for them,” she added.


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