Red Stripe, Pepsi form coalition to support Jamaica’s community bars

Community bars such as the one pictured are closer to breathing a sigh of relief as beverage giants Red Stripe pumps some $28 million into the ailing sector. (Photo: Flickr)

Red Stripe, along with Pepsi-Cola Jamaica, Celebration Brands and the Desnoes & Geddes Foundation have, on Tuesday (May 19), launched a targeted support programme for community bars across Jamaica.

The initiative, dubbed ‘For Our Bars, For Jamaica’, aims to fast-track the recovery of community bars, and comes as a direct response to commercial challenges faced by these establishments in particular, due to the restrictions on operations as part of the national COVID-19 guidelines.

Over $28 million dollars of direct support will be injected by the programme, which includes complimentary cases of Red Stripe and Pepsi product for re-stocking of the 1,865 selected bars island-wide.

The initiative sees a further 4,000 face shields and 2,000 gallons of hand sanitiser being offered by the D&G Foundation; as well as business-relevant training for bartenders and bar operators courtesy of Heineken.

During a virtual press conference announcing the programme, Red Stripe’s Managing Director Luis Prata, said that despite their size individually, community bars are a huge contributor to the national economy.

“We know the importance community bars have to the society and to the economy of Jamaica. There are approximately 10,000 [community] bars in Jamaica, owned and operated by hardworking people, who create jobs and help to grow our economy. Bars make up a huge portion of the micro-, small- and medium-[sized] enterprises, which account for 40 per cent of Jamaica’s GDP,” the Red Stripe Managing Director explained.

Managing Director of Red Stripe, Luis Prata. (Photo contributed)

“We estimate that the sector generates employment for about 40,000 Jamaicans, who have felt the real impact of recent restrictions imposed by COVID-19,” he added.

Expressing his optimism the economy will recover as the Government eases restrictions on retail bars and taverns, Prata said that as a proactive measure, Red Stripe’s initiative will help to get many local bar owners and operators back on their feet.

“We know the importance of community bars as social and economic catalysts. These on trade outlets are highly valued partners of Red Stripe and we will indeed dedicate significant time and effort to facilitate a smooth and successful transition to this new normal.” Prata said.

The bars, which have already been selected, according to Prata, will start to benefit from the programme on early next week – having passed Red Stripe’s criteria for compliance with health and safety orders.

Celebration Brands will provide logistical support in delivering products as well as protective equipment for the select bars, following the Government’s recent announcement that community bars will now be able to operate with limits on their hours and patrons.