UK initiatives to support independent businesses

COVID-19 support schemes for small business 

These are challenging times for everyone with the threat of COVID-19 changing everyone’s lives in an unprecedented manner. Small businesses have suffered as restrictions have prevented many independents to remain open during lockdown. This has affected the livelihoods of many entrepreneurs, who have had to be innovative in finding ways to continue serving their customers. 

In the light of this, some suppliers and distributors across the country have created support schemes to help their customers business’. We wanted to highlight a few initiatives that have caught our attention. 

Budweiser Brewing Group – Save Pub Life

Budweiser Brewing Group UK&I, part of AB Inbev, launched their ‘Save Pub Life’ scheme at the start of the COVID-19 outbreak back in March. Their programme was launched with the aim of supporting approximately 40,000 of Britain’s pubs during the Coronavirus crisis. 

The scheme encourages pubgoers to purchase gift cards – up to a value of £1,000 – which can then be used when their local reopens for business. Budweiser Brewing Group then matches the purchase for their free trade customers, up to £1 million total per pub, with this amount going to the owners within a fortnight to keep them a float during lockdown. 

This is an extraordinary initiative from Budweiser and has had a great success so far with over a 1,000 business signing up the scheme within the first week of launching.

Starstock – My Pub Shop 

Starstock, an e-Commerce technology company, launched mypubshop in March to help pubs, restaurants and shops during this difficult time. They opened up their online ordering platform to provide businesses the opportunity to take orders for drinks, food and takeaway meals online, which has helped them maintain an income stream during the Coronavirus crisis.

They have received the support of many large suppliers and distributors from across the country such as Coca-Cola European Partners, Greene King, Heineken, Bidfood and many more. The platform is completely free to use and only a 2% transaction fee is taken to cover the cost of processing transactions online. Any surplus revenue that is generated was directly donated to the National Healthcare Services. 

Deliveroo – #HereToDeliver 

Thousands of new restaurants have joined Deliveroo’s services to compensate on their reduced cashflow due to restrictions within the hospitality sector. Deliveroo have used thier industry expertise to guide businesses through these difficult times in several ways:

– Developed bespoke online marketing tools for restaurants to inform their customers they are operating a delivery service

– Lowered joining fees for new restaurants on the platform

– Introduced a new fast cash payment for restaurants to receive their funds within a day

– Developed an app to introduce ‘contact-free delivery’ so that restaurants can reassure their customers that meals are delivery in the safest way possible

– Shared expert advice and guidance on how to operate safely during the crisis

– Campaigned for more support for restaurants from government bodies

This has been another great example how an industry leader can utilise their expertise to support businesses when they need it most. In addition to this, in the future many businesses will likely continue to use delivery platforms as it creates a second stream of income. For more information on how to join a delivery platform, click here.

Heineken – Swifty App

Heineken have launched their own payment app in the United Kingdom, Swifty, aimed at helping on-trade customers contact-free settlements after the lockdown ends. This would allow pubs to take orders through the App as well as manage payments and footfall digitally to avoid close contact with their customers.

In addition to the above, Swift will also gather insights from customers’ purchasing behaviour, peak times and demographics. The main aim behind the development of the mobile application is to make customers feel comfortable when returning to their beloved pubs and keep them returning going into the future. Existing Heineken and Star Pubs & Bars can now claim their first four months on the Lite version for free.

London Essence – Cheers To You Campaign

Mixer brand The London Essence Company have asked customers to support the on-trade through these difficult period with their new campaign ‘Cheers To You’. This campaign encourages people to donate to The Drinks Trust for an amount of £10 (text CHEERS2U to 70212). If you decide to donate, you’re entered into a competition to win a year’s worth of supplies from London Essence. 

The company themselves started by donating an initial £10,000 to The Drinks Trust, which helps hospitality professionals to live a healthier lifestyle through counselling and therapy.

Pernod Ricard & WSET -Free Training

Pernod Ricard UK and The Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET) have partnered up to offer WSET Level 1 Spirits courses online free of charge. The offer has been particularly well received with up to 2,000 hospitality professionals over the age of 18 already signed up to the programme. The training course takes approximately four weeks to complete and will be run online by the WSET.

With the course includes a delivered selection spirits from Pernod Ricard to be used as taster throughout the duration of the programme. If you’re interested in signing up to the waiting list, visit and select the Let’s Keep Busy tab.

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