Castle Rock, which operates the Bread and Bitter and Willowbrook pubs, has launched a hardship fund to support the company’s most vulnerable staff through the Covid-19 pandemic.
The initiative will be available “from next week”, according to Castle Rock’s managing director, Colin Wilde.
“It’s been possible thanks to various factors, from the early pay sacrifices of the senior management team and directors and the operation of a sound business model,” he said.
In order to apply for the hardship pot, staff must be eligible and the amount of money released will also depend on this criteria. A small senior team has been mobilised to process applications.
Mr Wilde said: “The CV-19 pandemic will have a huge and lasting impact on how businesses operate in the future. We’ve learned lessons and have had ideas that we intend to apply indefinitely and that includes this hardship fund, meaning eligible members of the Castle Rock family will always have access to a small pot of money should they need it in an emergency.
“We can expand on this as matters arise, but I sincerely hope it becomes a permanent fixture in how we look after our colleagues.”
“The Castle Rock Hardship Fund includes a commitment to suppliers of goods and services too. Once received, we will pay them on time, and in full, in recognition that we’re not on our own. Our suppliers will be vital as things get back to normal, an impossibility if they aren’t there.”
Castle Rock intends to pay all staff and suppliers in March and will also be able to cover the 80% pay rate in April – even if the CJRS grant has not been received by then.
Colin is keen to add that there are still many concerns: “We’re certainly not out of the woods. There remains a lot of uncertainty ahead, and we’re still expecting to have to make some difficult decisions. However, we’re doing what we said we’d do from the start, which is to look after the Castle Rock family as best we can, try to keep the economy going, and support our suppliers and peers. And not least to do our upmost to prevent the spread of coronavirus”.
He added: “Our bank, Santander, has been very supportive so we thank them for that. We’d like to thank our landlords for foregoing rent payments for three months and the people we have sold to who have been good enough to pay us.
“Finally, it almost goes without saying that we acknowledge the work of others to protect our industry and our people – the government, campaign groups and our local and national politicians lobbying for support.”