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Thu 9th Apr 2020 - Coronavirus: Greggs, trade bodies' grant plea, Arc, D&D London and Bella Italia
Greggs to access £150m under government CCFF scheme: Food-to-go retailer Greggs has said it is accessing £150m under the government’s Covid Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF) scheme with a duration of 11 months. The company said the credit available under the scheme was sufficient to meet its liquidity needs for a prolonged closure period, including a scenario where its shops are unable to trade for the rest of the year. In addition, Greggs said it continued to have “constructive dialogue with our banking partners and are keeping open all options to address current and future financing needs”. The company stated: “In our statement dated 23 March 2020 we estimated the impact of our shop operations remaining closed for a prolonged period would be a net weekly cash out flow of £5m (including the benefit of mitigating actions), plus property rental costs of £11m each quarter. Having now had clarification of the details of the government's Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and following further examination of our cost base we now expect that, after we have met our existing liabilities relating to recent trading and our capital investment programme over the near term, the net cash outflow while closed will be circa £3.5m per week until the end of June. From July onwards the cost is anticipated to be circa £4.5m per week including the cost of all property rents, which we expect in future to pay monthly in advance. Our cash at bank position is currently £47m, before receipt of CCFF funding. While many uncertainties remain, we have ensured Greggs and its many stakeholders will be well-supported through this difficult period and the company will be in a position to return to profitable growth as soon as conditions allow.”

Grants need to be expanded and distribution accelerated, say trade bodies: Crucial packages of support announced by the government are not being delivered quickly enough to help businesses affected by coronavirus, according to sector trade bodies. The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA), British Institute of Innkeeping, Campaign for Real Ale and UKHospitality have written to the chancellor warning some local authorities are distributing grants far too slowly to benefit under-pressure businesses. The letter also warns too many businesses facing critical cash flow issues fall outside of the threshold for grants. The trade bodies have called for the £51,000 maximum rateable value threshold to be abolished and push councils to deliver cash urgently. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “The package of support the government has announced is very generous. Unfortunately, the delivery of that support has been far too slow, and businesses cannot wait any longer.” BBPA chief executive Emma McClarkin added: “10,000 pubs are still without any grant support because they are above the rateable value threshold. Unless that is abolished immediately, many of those pubs will cease to exist in a matter of weeks putting some 150,000 jobs at risk.” 

Arc Inspirations reveals measures to support business and staff, CEO and chairman forgo salary: Arc Inspirations, the Leeds-based operator of a number of fast-growing brands, has revealed a number of proactive measures to ensure the business and its team are supported while its 17 venues are closed. All salaried staff were paid in full for March and with the majority of team members now furloughed, all will be paid 80% of their salaries for April, with the company topping up colleagues where necessary. During this time, chief executive Martin Wolstencroft and chairman Chris Ure will not draw any salary. Arc said it continued to work positively with its bank Santander as well as its landlords and range of suppliers, and continued to focus on progressing its growth strategy, including securing new sites in key target locations. A number of initiatives are in place to keep people and teams connected and engaged, including daily v-logs from directors and senior staff, fitness challenges, cocktail competitions, quizzes, cooking competitions, and music playlist sharing. The company has also set up an initiative called “Arc Cares” where if any employee is concerned or worried about their own personal situation, they can contact an appropriate senior team member in confidence to discuss and deal with. Wolstencroft said: “My complete focus is on ensuring Arc Inspirations and its wonderful people come through this tough time together. Myself and my team are determined to keep driving the business forward, ensuring our culture remains strong so, when the time comes, we are ready to bounce back better than ever. As part of this, we plan to host the best reopening parties – we’ve called it Project BOOM. We also want to hold a series of celebrations in our bars for NHS staff to thank them for their incredible efforts to help the nation through this.”

D&D London launches online staff platform: Restaurant operator D&D London has launched an online platform to provides support and guidance for its 2,000 employees. Staff can visit the “D&D Connect” portal, which will update them on the ever-changing situation, focus on employee health and well-being, as well as host social activities. Available resources include the most frequently asked questions by employees about the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, volunteering opportunities, business updates and cooking lessons from the company’s chefs. Head of learning and development Adam Harwood said: “We want to help our D&D London colleagues every step of the way. This platform provides one place our teams can rely on to get up to the minute advice to help them in this uncertain and ever-changing period.”

Bella Italia commits to providing 1,000 free meals to front line staff: Bella Italia, part of Casual Dining Group, has committed to providing 1,000 free meals to NHS staff serving on the front line during the coronavirus crisis this month. Dedicated Bella Italia team members reopened the company’s South Kensington branch and began preparing freshly cooked pasta and pizza from its spring menu this week. The team is working with Deliveroo to provide the meals every week over the next month, as part of the delivery provider’s campaign to make 500,000 free meals for NHS workers. The meal donations are the latest in a number of efforts Bella Italia has implemented to support the NHS. When the nationwide lock-down commenced, sites gave away their fresh food to the NHS, as well as elderly members of the communities they serve. The restaurant has put a range of strict extra procedures in place to ensure the safety of all team members involved, which includes social distancing measures between staff and delivery drivers, contact-free handover of prepared meals, and regular sanitisation of the pass. Lisa Gibbons, brand director at Bella Italia, said: “This initiative, which the entire team has got behind, is indicative of our amazing team culture at Bella, something I’m immensely proud to be a part of. We’re delighted to contribute to this scheme and do our bit to support the NHS.” Bella Italia also offers 50% off the total bill to all NHS workers and first responders, via a small number of sites that remain open for delivery via Deliveroo.

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