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Shepherd Neame

To the people of Kent, Shepherd Neame needs little introduction. Britain’s oldest brewer has been based in Faversham for more than 300 years, brewing a range of of classic British ales and with a portfolio of more than 300 pubs and hotels across the South East and London. And, like all in the hospitality industry, it was hit hard by the Covid crisis which saw its outlets forced to close for much of last year.

In fact, even before the first national lockdown, it had switched to home working for its office staff in order to ensure the brewery could be kept Covid-secure in order to keep producing.

As the lockdown was introduced, all capital projects were cancelled and expenditure minimised as it sought to adjust to the challenges the sector faced.

The directors and higher paid staff all took a voluntary pay cut while in order to ease the burden on its pub operators, it waived all rent from tenanted licensees in addition to helping them access business grants and other available government assistance.

This allowed many to pivot their offers, extending to provide a takeaway service, while some offered free meals for the elderly and vulnerable.

Despite 97% of its staff on furlough, the brewery continued to make beer for the supermarkets, with off- trade sales growing 36%.

In fact such was the demand, local hop growers were able to benefit as it placed a significant order for Kentish hops. All the food at managed pub kitchens was arranged to be despatched to local food banks, while the NHS was offered rooms at its managed hotels.

It also provided the base ‘beer’ for hand sanitiser production, in partnership with Chatham’s Copper Rivet Distillery. When pubs were finally allowed to reopen, it rolled out a string of safety measures as the traditional community hearts beat back into life.

As its online shop reopened, Shepherd Neame pledged a £1 donation to the Kent NHS Community Heroes charity for every case of beer, wine or cider ordered until the end of May 2020, resulting in a donation of £4,000.


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