The pubco/brewer Greene King has become the UK’s largest pub takeaway business following the rollout of its ‘pub grub’ operation.
Greene King, originally a Bury St. Edmunds brewery founded in 1799, now operates over 3,000 franchised pubs in the UK as well as brands like Hungry Horse and Loch Fyne.
The ‘pub grub’ scheme came in May as an attempt to mitigate some of the damage done to the hospitality sector by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) recently published a report stating that hospitality suffered an 84.7% decline in the second quarter as a result of the closure of establishments during lockdown.
Greene King’s initial rollout saw 29 of its pubs offering a delivery service with Deliveroo as well 10 providing click and collect service to customers. The pubco also launched an employee support fund to assist workers who had been affected by the pandemic. The fun was set up with an initial donation of £300,000 raised from a combination of senior team salary cuts and company donation.
“It’s important for us that our team feel safe in the workplace,” said Green King CEO Nick Mackenzie back in May.
“We have consulted them every step of the way, giving the option to return to work for those who work in selected pubs if their personal circumstances allow.”
It’s safe to say that Greene King’s ‘pub grub’ scheme has been successful: as of August, the pubco will now be extending its delivery service to 400 pubs from the original 29, plus takeaway options at 1,400 of a possible 1,700 reopened food-led sites.
All locations offering takeaway will be eligible for the government’s VAT reduction initiative, allowing customers a 20% discount on their order.
“We are thrilled to offer this added service to our customers who we know have missed pub food during lockdown,” says Matt Todd, group procurement and supply chain director.
“Our purchasing habits have changed over the last few months and while nothing quite replicates the experience of being with friends and family in a pub setting, for many customers, particularly if they have been shielding, it may take time to build confidence to return to the pub.”
Whilst this may well be the case, Greene King’s ability to adapt to the current state of the market shows that there is a light at the end of the tunnel for the UK’s hospitality industry.