Starbucks sets up relief fund for UK employees as part of $10m global programme to help staff: Starbucks is setting up a relief fund for its UK employees as part of a $10m global programme to help staff during the coronavirus crisis. The commitment marks the first time both company-operated and international licensed market store employees across Starbucks can access hardship grants. Support from the Starbucks Global Partner Emergency Relief Programme will be made available to staff in licensed store markets through the Emergency Assistance Foundation; to employees in company-operated markets through the established Caring Unites Partners (CUP) fund; and to partners in Europe through the Starbucks EMEA Partner Relief Fund, which has been established for European company-operated markets including the UK, Austria, Switzerland, as well as the company’s roastery in Italy and roasting plant in the Netherlands. Categories for fund grants include, but are not limited to, housing and utilities, sudden loss of home, death of a family member or partner, and related funeral expenses. Starbucks $10m commitment to the Global Partner Emergency Relief Programme will also create a pathway for international licensed markets to set up their own funds with Starbucks contributing an initial investment, a first for the company. Chief partner officer Lucy Helm said: “As we navigate this global crisis, we never lose sight of the well-being of our partners, who are the heartbeat of this company. During this very difficult time, we believe it is our responsibility to create additional support for partners facing unexpected financial hardship wherever they are. We are proud to be a catalyst for a first-of-its-kind global funding initiative to further demonstrate to our Starbucks partners that we are in this together.”
Peach to launch Pub Hub social enterprise initiative: Gastro-pub operator Peach is to launch a social enterprise initiative called Pub Hub, which will start through some of its sites, but it hopes will be taken up by other pub operators. Run through its Peach Foundation and new website, the company states its mission is to “to serve three million meals to those in need”. It states: “Pub Hub is a social enterprise, born from the need to keep the hospitality industry and its supply chain running in these extraordinary times. The idea is to cook food from the sites and manage grocery deliveries for NHS staff and vulnerable members of the community. We want to give the pub hospitality and volunteer teams a purpose. We are a not-for-profit social enterprise that relies on volunteers, sponsorship and donations from businesses, brands and you – our local community! Your donations keep our shops and kitchens running and enable us to provide free and discounted meals to the members of your community who need them the most.” The initiative hopes to be a new source of food and volunteer action for those “most in need of support at this time, including NHS and key workers, and those in vulnerable health categories”. It also hopes to support “talent” in the form of giving trained chefs a purpose and supporting their well-being when they would otherwise be at home, and businesses by keeping “local and beloved pubs as the ‘hub’ of the community”, while also “re-engaging with suppliers and providers on a national and local level”. The business hopes it will be a model it can “seed into more UK pubs” and in time “1,000 pubs could be feeding the elderly and health workers at discounted prices”. It is thought the initiative has already been launched out of Peach’s The Boathouse in Boulters Lock, near Maidenhead.
Paul UK reopens four London shops and launches grocery market: Paul UK, the French bakery and cafe brand, has reopened four of its London sites for delivery and takeaway as well as launched a grocery market at its Acton bakery. The Canary Wharf, Hampstead, Marble Arch and Wimbledon branches are open daily from 8am to 2pmoffering hot drinks, bread, viennoiserie, sweet tarts and mini macarons to takeaway or for home delivery. Meanwhile, the grocery market delivers fresh bread and sweet pastries, alongside essentials such as milk, butter, and fresh fruit and vegetables. The company said this initiative has been put in place to support the widespread demand for key groceries, and to help alleviate the pressure on supermarkets. The grocery market offers “bread and veg”, “bread and more” and “family top-up” bundles with delivery available to qualifying postcodes within a two to three-mile radius of the bakery. Chief executive Mark Hilton said: “The grocery market is an extension of our bread market that launched two weeks ago and gives customers the chance to pick up essentials without having to visit busy supermarkets. With many people finding it hard to book supermarket delivery slots we wanted to help with the demand by delivering bundle boxes of bread, dairy, and fruit and vegetable essentials, direct to the homes of our local community.”
Stonegate launches online staff community platform: Stonegate Pub Company has launched a new community initiative via its internal platform, Academy Online. Through the new “Stonegate Community” pages, furloughed staff are able to get access to articles on health and well-being, independent advice on budgeting and finances, personal development materials, and regular updates from chief executive Simon Longbottom. The learning and development team is planning a range of content for the coming weeks – focusing on different topics relevant to navigating life during coronavirus – and the interactive platform allows users to like, comment, ask questions and make suggestions on the subject matter. Lee Woolley, head of learning and organisation development, said: “It was incredibly important to us to keep the Stonegate community spirit alive during this difficult time, and with all of our employees already having access to Academy Online it was the logical step to launch our new initiative on the platform. We know we’re going to come back stronger after this crisis is over, and it will be our people that make that revival not only possible but positive.”
The Athenian opens Deliveroo Editions sites, implements ‘walk to work’ scheme:Greek street food restaurant group The Athenian has opened sites within Deliveroo Edition kitchens as it trades online only. The company has launched within the Editions sites in Reading and London’s Swiss Cottage while it will operate via the Brighton kitchen from Wednesday, 29 April – allowing it to keep staff in work. The Athenian has implemented a scheme whereby every member of the delivery team who walks to work will be paid to do so, rather than taking public transport. Weekly care packages have been made available for all staff as well as free meals during shifts. The Athenian will be donating a further 2,500 meals to the NHS as well as continuing to offer a 50% discount to healthcare workers.
Darden furloughs 20% of corporate staff and 150,000 hourly paid restaurant workers: Darden Restaurants, which operates a number of casual dining brands in the US including Olive Garden and LongHorn Steakhouse, is furloughing 20% of its corporate staff and reducing salaries for roughly 800 remaining employees – including a 50% pay cut for top executives. Darden reported a 39.1% drop in like-for-like sales for the first six weeks of the fourth quarter ended 5 April, including a drop of more than 70% in each of the past three weeks. Darden has entered into a $270m term loan credit agreement bringing its total cash in hand to $1bn. Chief executive Gene Lee, who previously announced he was forgoing most of his salary, also said executive officers were taking a 50% base salary pay cut from 13 April. That includes about a dozen of the company’s top leaders. Company spokesman Rich Jeffers told Nation’s Restaurant News furloughed employees will get 50% of their salary for three weeks. Darden will continue to cover medical premiums for those who previously had those benefits. The furloughs are indefinite. To date, the company has furloughed about 150,000 hourly paid restaurant workers. Salaried managers remain employed. Under the company’s three-week Emergency Pay Programme, furloughed hourly workers receive up to three weeks of pay based on their average pay over the previous 13-weeks prior to the time they stopped working. The company – whose other brands include Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen, Yard House, The Capital Grille, Seasons 52, Bahama Breeze and Eddie V’s – said about 99% of its more than 1,800 restaurants remain open for to-go services.
Everyman raises £17.5m in oversubscribed share placing: Cinema operator Everyman has raised £17.5m through an oversubscribed share placing. The company placed 17 million shares at 100p each, a 7% discount to Tuesday’s (7 April) closing price. It represents 19.2% of the firm’s issued capital. Majority shareholders Blue Coast Private Equity and BlackRock acquired circa 3.5 million shares each and will own 19% and 12% of the company respectively once the transaction is completed. The proceeds will be used to cope through the coronavirus crisis if lock-down measures are extended to the summer, as well as continuing with the expansion programme once possible. Chief executive Crispin Lilley said: “Our ambition is simply to ensure as we emerge from the restrictions that currently face us, Everyman is well placed to continue to deliver on our growth ambitions. Together with our existing funding arrangements, this placing significantly strengthens our balance sheet, providing further working capital and allows us to pick up where we left off.”
Heineken withdraws guidance as coronavirus dents beer sales: Heineken has withdrawn all guidance for the year as beer volumes fall in the face of the coronavirus outbreak. The company said the pandemic was having a “significant impact” on business in 2020, noting the restriction of movement, outlet closures and the lock-down of production facilities. Total consolidated volume is expected to decrease 4% in the first quarter, with beer volume down 2%. Heineken warned the impact of the pandemic on sales was likely to worsen in the second quarter. Heineken said it entered the current crisis with a strong balance sheet as well as undrawn committed credit facilities. It added it had secured additional financing on the debt capital market in recent weeks. It placed €1.4bn (£1.23bn) of five and ten-year notes in late March. Heineken said it would provide more information on further measures to mitigate the impact in its first quarter trading update at the end of the month.
Veeno to donate 10% of profit from every online wine sale to NHS: Italian wine bar business Veeno is donating 10% of profit from every online wine sale to the NHS. The company has also encouraged its furloughed staff to sign up as volunteers to help those on the front line. Veeno stated: “The NHS has been at the forefront of this battle and we wanted to show our support and appreciation.” Last week, owner and director Rodrigue Trouillet told Propel its staff will be key in the company’s attempts to regain the momentum it had before the coronavirus crisis. Trouillet acquired the company out of administration a year ago and said “real progress” was being made before the country was locked down.
AG Barr scraps dividend as it warns lock-down measures will materially hit business: Funkin owner AG Barr has scrapped its dividend and warned lock-down measures would deliver a material hit to performance as it reported a fall in profit amid weaker-than-expected performance in its core soft drinks business. Sales of soft drinks from “impulse” customers, which accounted for 40% of revenue, had significantly reduced following the government’s lock-down measures, introduced on 23 March, prompting the company to warn of a material adverse impact to its financial performance. A 20% salary cut has voluntarily been made by senior executives and board members for at least three months. The company said it would review the dividend position “when there was greater visibility of the impact of coronavirus”. For the 52 weeks ended 25 January 2020. pre-tax profit fell 16% to £37.4m and revenue fell 8.4% to £255.7m. The company stated: “Possibly the biggest impact on soft drinks this year was the weather, with an average summer following on from the hottest summer on record in 2018. Consumption levels fell across the market, with most soft drinks sub categories declining.