Wray & Nephew pumps $35m into community bar revival
Janet Silvera/Senior Gleaner Writer
More than 500 bars in western Jamaica are set to be resuscitated from the COVID-19 slump in fortunes as Campari’s J. Wray and Nephew (JWN) pumps $35 million into a ‘Restart Pack’ initiative aimed at having an islandwide impact.
The initiative is geared at assisting 2,000 bar owners nationwide with the restocking and the reopening of their businesses, months after they were locked down as a result of measures to reduce exposure to coronavirus.
In the almost three months of lockdown, bars lost hundreds of millions of dollars and were forced to lay off staff.
“The initiative is intended to assist in the recovery of small retail businesses and the Jamaican economy in general,” JWN’s commercial director for Jamaica & the Caribbean, Michelle Brown-Sinclair, told The Gleaner, hours after her team handed over boxes of products to bar owners in the county of Cornwall.
The Restart Pack’of twenty-four 200ml bottles includes the new Kingston 62 Jamaica Gold Rum brand, Appleton Estate Signature Blend, Magnum Tonic Wineand Campari.
The packages also included hand sanitisers to support bars in implementing and maintaining the COVID-19 safety protocols mandated by the Government.
A total of 48,000 bottles will be donated to bars by the end of this week.
“Bar owners will be able to hit the ground running as they reopen their businesses and serve their customers safely and responsibly. Our community bars are located in small communities where disposable income has been severely reduced as a result of the restrictions related to COVID-19, and this initiative is intended to help build and strengthen the economies of these communities,” Brown-Sinclair said.
Bars are also being provided with wash stations and decals to be used as physical-distancing markers, as well as posters with Ministry of Health and Wellness-approved COVID-19 hygiene messages.
On a visit to the Trackside in Mt Salem, St James, Joslyn Stewart, owner, told The Gleaner of the difficulty he has faced since closing his business on March 18.
“We have had to fight and struggle to remain alive, and the fact that Wray & Nephew has recognised what we have been going through is heartening. I am glad for the contribution.”
Another bar owner, Paul Graham, operator of Bonafide, Lawrence Lane, Montego Bay, whose relationship with the rum company spans 40 years, said that he was hit hard when he was forced to shutter his business.
“Many people don’t understand that rum drinking is a very important facet of life for men. They (men) come and chat our language, so having to go home at 3 p.m. without a drink just wasn’t easy,” stated Graham.
The Wray & Nephew initiative follows Red Stripe’s investment in 1,800 bars across the island. A similar project was launched by the beer company approximately three weeks ago.
Jamaica is home to 10,000 bars.
“We know that 2,000 packages is not enough, but we will continue working with our partners,” Brown-Sinclair said.
In a press statement on Wednesday, JWN said the initiative has been commended by the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ). The organisation’s president, Keith Duncan, described the move as “a considerable effort by JWN to support bar owners and an example of business partnership for economic recovery”.