1. How is Diageo Ireland gearing up to meet the demand from the on-trade?
We’re looking forward to hotels and outdoor hospitality reopening in early June and our hope is that indoor hospitality will be open by early July.
The brewery at Saint James’s Gate is extremely busy – it hasn’t stopped throughout the entire Covid19 pandemic – and we’re working hard to ensure our licensed premises are fully supplied and ready to offer customers great-tasting Guinness. The data we have from Great Britain and Northern Ireland gives us confidence that consumer demand will be incredibly strong and therefore we’ve factored that into our brewing forecast.
We’ve been busy in recent weeks and months uplifting and crediting kegs – over 500,000 kegs from across Ireland at the last count since the pandemic began last year – and our dedicated Guinness Quality teams have been on the road, calling to our licensed partners and undertaking a series of rigorous checks to guarantee that people all over Ireland can enjoy a fresh, beautiful pint when restaurants and pubs reopen.
We’ve kept in regular contact with our customers throughout the pandemic, with both our commercial and quality teams being integral to that ongoing partnership and our online platform My Diageo has really helped with regular customer communication. We’ve already started to take customer orders for delivery over the next few weeks.
2. Do you think you’ll be able to meet the demand?
Yes. Rest assured that our licensed premises will be fully-stocked and supplied and ready to offer customers great-tasting beer.
3. What are your priorities as Diageo Ireland’s On-trade Director for the reopening?
Our immediate focus is very much on getting the licensed trade open again in a safe and sustainable manner and to support our customers in any way we can to make it a success for all involved.
We’ve a full calendar of marketing activity planned for our brands for the year ahead to maximise impact in the licensed trade, with our brands also continuing to show up on TV and out-of-home media. In fact our new Guinness ad campaign ‘Hands’ celebrates the joyful anticipation experienced before that first sip of Guinness was launched on the 18th of May.
4. What are the biggest obstacles to distribution and supply as you see it?
We’re as organised and ready as we possibly can be – we’ve been looking forward to this for a long time, as have our customers. Over 436 days and counting for those closed since the 15th of March 2020. Our ask is for customers to place orders and receive delivery as early as possible.
5. What are your own plans to supply pubs in time for June the 7th reopening?
We’re ready for outdoor opening on the 7th of June and will hopefully hear soon as to the plans for indoor. Whatever the date is for indoor reopening, we’ll work alongside our licensed customers to ensure they’re fully supplied and ready to offer beautiful, great-tasting Guinness.
6. What advice have you for your on-trade customers?
Earlier, in May, more than 1,200 publicans from across Ireland attended the Guinness Raising the Bar ‘Emerging Stronger’ virtual conference, all brought together by the three publican trade associations – the Licensed Vintners Association, the Vintners Federation of Ireland and Hospitality Ulster.
The focus of the conference was on how the industry could emerge stronger than ever post Lockdown. The feedback from customers was incredibly positive and I think the ’emerging stronger’ message is key for our on-trade customers. We will come out of this stronger by working together as an industry. If you missed the conference, you can view it online at MyDiageo.com.
7. Diageo Ireland was fairly active during the Lockdowns in terms of supporting the on-trade, has it any particular supports in place for publicans in reopening the on-trade?
Diageo brought in a series of significant measures to assist the licensed trade and its staff during the pandemic Lockdown and to support ahead of re-opening.
It was back on St Patrick’s Day 2020 that our support initially began with the launch of the Guinness Fund, a €1.5 million fund to provide support to bar staff and their families during the COVID-19 crisis across the Island of Ireland. We worked with our partners in the trade, including the VFI and LVA, to understand how best to support bar staff to maximum effect.
Then in June 2020 Guinness launched a €14 million fund called ‘Raising the Bar’. This is part of a $100m global programme to support pubs and bars to welcome customers back and recover following the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s a two-year programme established to support pubs across the Island of Ireland.
Through this we’ve provided practical equipment and confidence-building measures. Any pub that registers with the programme can request a free reopening essentials kit including hand sanitiser, serving trays, uniforms and take-away cups. Given the focus on outdoor hospitality, we’ve also used the fund to supply equipment such as heaters, mobile bars, awnings and most recently, antibacterial menus. To date, 5,256 outlets in Ireland have registered for support, 3,500 of which have received essentials kits and 1,244 have been given outdoor equipment – 6,100 pieces of equipment in total.
The Guinness Raising the Bar Support Helpline was launched in November 2020, a dedicated freephone support phoneline for pub owners, their staff and their immediate families providing emotional counselling and information regarding financial supports.
Training has been a key area of focus for many in the hospitality industry, particularly retaining and upskilling staff members on furlough and providing them with the confidence to return to their roles after such a long period of time. 21,872 hospitality staff have completed the IACT Covid compliance training, funded by Raising the Bar, while over 400 hospitality employees have taken part in the Raising the Bar Upskilling programme delivered by The Springboard Charity with our target being 1,000 by mid-July.
It has been vitally important to us to do everything we can to support hospitality every step of the way and the Guinness Raising the Bar programme has allowed us to do that.