About 1500 restaurants and bars have signed up for the business revival initiative by the country’s biggest liquor firm United Spirits that sells brands such as McDowell and Black Dog whiskey under India arm ofDiageo.
The company had launched a Rs 75 crore fund under its global “Raising the Bar programme” in June to help hospitality industry as they prepared to reopen following the easing of coronavirus restrictions.
The spike in registration comes as restaurants and bars want to capitalise on the ongoing peak period of festive season. The company noted registrations from states such as Assam, Chandigarh, Delhi, Goa, Haryana, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Punjab, Telangana and Uttar Pradesh over the last few months.
“As the F&B industry readies for resumption of services/operations, it is imperative that we support them as well. We are elated with the response ‘Raising the Bar’ program has received in its first phase and the strong endorsement garnered within the fraternity,” Shweta Jain, vice president – luxury commercial and key accounts at Diageo India said in a press statement.
The program provides on-ground support to qualifying outlets by making provisions of physical equipment and hygiene kits comprising sanitiser dispensers and personal protection equipment including masks and gloves. The programme also helps establish partnerships with online reservations and cashless systems; mobile bars and outdoor equipment.
Ajay Gowda, owner of Byg Ventures, one of the early registrants, said, “So far this programme has given a strong backup to outlets by providing non – cash support including physical equipment like hygiene kits as well as new-age tech solves like contactless dining. The digital screens being put in outlets are surely an innovative way to deliver high quality menu deliverables in this new normal.”
The restaurant sector, estimated to be a Rs 4 lakh crore industry, was at a standstill for two months following thenationwide lockdownstarting March 25. Malls and restaurants were among the first casualties of the country’s phase-wise lockdown.
According to apex body NRAI, or the national restaurant association of India, the hospitality industry employs 7.3 million people and is the second largest employer of human capital in India after agriculture. Even as lockdown is lifted completely, food and beverage sector is expected to be hit the hardest within discretionary categories due to low consumer sentiment and reduced discretionary spend due to pay cuts. Restaurants have been drawing up new rules of customer engagement once lockdown ends and business resumes.
In India, Diageo’s programme for the hospitality industry is owned and led by Black Dog, the company’s locally blended scotch whisky.