Diageo India has announced ‘raising the bar’, a 75-crore programme committed to support bars, pubs and restaurants serving alcohol to welcome customers back and recover following the Covid-19 pandemic. It will be a two-year programme to support the revival and recovery of qualifying bars, pubs and restaurants serving alcohol across New Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and other cities. The company designed the programme following a global survey of bar owners to identify key priorities to support reopening. Their top priorities included hygiene measures, digital support and practical equipment and training to transform how their outlets will work when they reopen. The programme will provide targeted non-cash support including physical equipment needed for outlets to re-open like ‘hygiene kits’ with high-quality permanent sanitiser dispensers, medical grade hand sanitiser and a range of personal protection equipment (such as masks and gloves); help to bars, pubs and restaurants serving alcohol to establish partnerships with online reservations and cashless systems; mobile bars and outdoor equipment. Bar owners will receive regular updates on best practice training and resources and be able to participate in global surveys to share insights, as they build back their businesses. Anand Kripalu, managing director and CEO, Diageo India, said, “The Indian hospitality and F&B industry has witnessed unprecedented loss of revenues. This has impacted many start-ups and MSMEs as well as the livelihood of millions of people. Pubs, bars and restaurants are an integral part of our communities, bringing people together to socialise and celebrate – something we have all missed during the lockdown.” “Diageo has always had strong linkages with the hospitality and food and beverage industry, jointly curating unique experiences for consumers. The revival of this sector is vital to the economy and to the success of our business. ‘’Raising the Bar’’ is our commitment to qualifying pubs, bars and restaurants that serve alcohol. This support extends to providing enhanced safety measures when they resume operations so that their business and employment can revive, enabling our consumers to feel confident once again to socialise and lead normal lives,” he added. The company commitment is part of it US$100 million initiative, benefitting global cities like New York, London, Edinburgh, Dublin, Belfast, Mexico City, Sao Paulo, Shanghai, Nairobi, Dar es Salaam, Kampala and Sydney. In India, the programme will be owned and led by Black Dog, our locally blended iconic scotch whisky. According to a recent Pahle India Foundation report, the Indian restaurant industry is the third-largest in the service segment, contributing over 2.1 per cent to the GDP. The industry valued at Rs 30 billion (US$426 million) is projected to grow at 10 per cent CAGR to Rs 50 billion (US$710 million) by 2021. Furthermore, it contributes almost Rs 24 billion (US$340 million) to the government exchequer and employs 7.2 million people. The impact of Covid-19 on hospitality industry has been widespread, with the closure of venues across the country. The industry, home to many start-ups and MSMEs, is facing a tremendous liquidity crisis owing to lockdown closures, high rentals and additional pressures of securing hygiene equipment. As governments begin to ease lockdown measures, people want to come together again to connect with their community and socialise safely. By bringing international best practices, providing access to free digital support, technology, training and equipment, the company aims to help bars, pubs and restaurants serving alcohol in India, open its doors again.