St Austell Brewery chief executive Kevin Georgel has outlined six key principles that he says his company will adhere to when helping their tenants through the coronavirus lockdown.
“I’m very passionate about this,” said Georgel. “St Austell Brewery has existed for 169 years and throughout that time we have always sought to develop trusted and supportive relationships with all our tenants.
“As a business, we have strong embedded values and integrity. These values underpin how we behave and have been a key factor in the business being top of the annual Tenant Track survey on six occasions in the past eight years.”
He said the company had “no intention” of stepping away from those values despite the difficult circumstances all were facing.
The six guiding principles
As a result, he’s drawn up a list of six guiding principles which are:
- We will be fair, honest, open and transparent
- We will support you to get through the crisis and, importantly, recover – as much as we can within the limits of our own finite financial resources
- We will seek to understand and respond to your differing circumstances, and the different levels of Government support that has been made available
- We will provide clarity on our support as far out as we sensibly can in what remains a rapidly changing situation
- We will keep the situation under constant review and respond in a calm, considered and timely manner
- We will maintain regular communication, we will not furlough our BDMs, we will retain our tenanted team in the business, and they will stand by you throughout the crisis in order to support you
He said the principles had been shared with and endorsed by the company’s tenant liaison group, which he said had “also supported our evolving approach to assisting our tenanted partners at this very challenging time”.
He added: “As you would expect, I am speaking to my fellow CEOs on a daily basis in large and smaller businesses, and I know that the principles that we have set out above reflect the approach and intention of all of the people that I have spoken with.
“We will stand by these principles throughout the crisis and we will be held accountable for our actions when we come through this – and we will come through this. However, we will be held accountable by our tenants and no one else because they are our absolute focus and priority at this time.”
Support strong, but patience needed says operator
One St Austell tenant, Tanya Williams of the Polgooth Inn, in St Austell, welcomed the news and said she felt she was getting a good level of support from the pub company.
“It has been really good. When it all kicked off we were getting daily emails to help some tenants understand because not everybody saw it coming. I was grateful as it cut through a lot of the jargon.”
She said there was a degree of panic across the entire sector and felt a lot of the reaction was down to people being “extremely impatient”.
Williams added: “When they put that great thing in about the 80% it was absolutely fantastic but everyone wanted it sorted out by Monday morning. People needed to be a little more patient, everybody had to get their head around it.
“I don’t know whether I’m ever the optimist, but something’s going to happen, we just have to give them the time to work through the information we’ve got. Nobody’s going to wave a magic wand and everything will be OK within 24 hours. We need to all research it and make the best possible decision for our businesses at that time.
“I genuinely think something will happen and it is happening, it’s just not as immediate as some people think.”
She said she welcomed St Austell’s support to date on rents – which has seen them cancel rents in April – but accepted that everyone’s resources are finite: “How long can you keep that going when its an open-ended situation? It’s really unfair that people are asking them to make decisions on rents two or three months down the line when we don’t know where we’re going to be.
“The fairest thing is to keep reviewing it – at the moment that’s the right thing to do, in two or three weeks’ time it might not be.”