Award-winning Leitrim distillery partners with Tesco during Covid-19

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Pat Rigney from The Shed Distillery elected Chair of Drinks Ireland

Pat Rigney, The Shed Distillery, Drumshanbo

As the country marks the one-year milestone since the first Covid-19 national restrictions were introduced; Tesco Ireland looks back on a year like no other.

Whilst the pandemic has affected all industries, the impact on grocery retail has been extraordinary. In the last 12 months, over 13,000 Tesco colleagues have worked tirelessly to serve customers and communities across Ireland.

Since March, Tesco has worked hard to maintain a safe shopping environment for colleagues and customers:

391 individual hand sanitiser units were installed with over 130,000 litres of hand sanitiser used to date, which is enough to fill 817 bathtubs.

Over 10,000 units of handsanitiser were supplied by The Shed Distillery, at a time when a global shortage of the product was in place.

Pat Rigney, Founder and Managing Director of The Shed Distillery said: “The Shed Distillery team who distil Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin were very proud to reconfigure our production to make emergency hand and surface sanitiser for Tesco Ireland when the global shortage was at crisis point. It was inspirational to witness so large an organisation mobilise at lightning speed with ours, and to move at such extraordinary pace.

"The team worked through the night, to fill thousands of spray bottles and dispatch them urgently to protect the safety of customers and staff in their 151 stores across Ireland. It was a powerful display of Tesco’s enormous commitment and dedication to suppressing the virus and prioritising the safety of customers and staff without compromising their essential grocery service. 

"Moments like these, where staff at all levels pull together to fulfil a fundamental need, strengthens your faith in humanity. We at the home of Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin were delighted to have been part of such a remarkable collaboration.”

Throughout the course of the year, Tesco reinforced its commitment to supporting local suppliers by:

- Shortening payment terms of over 200 suppliers, which has now been extended to February 2022
- Renewing its partnership with Country Crest under a €62.5million contract for the supply of potatoes, onions and sweet potatoes
- Increased its range of Irish artisan, farmhouse cheese to over 70 products in support for the Irish-made cheese sector

Kari Daniels, CEO, Tesco Ireland said: “The year that has been has necessitated significant change at Tesco, both how our customers shop and how our colleagues serve.

"We prioritised safety of our stores above all, protected availability to ensure customers could get what they needed and supported those who couldn’t come to store with home deliveries as well as helping those most in need in our communities.

"I want to acknowledge and thank our 13,000 colleagues across Ireland for their dedication, hard work and support of each other whilst helping our customers and communities with great pride, showcasing first-hand that every little help makes a big difference.”

Tesco also supported the Government’s Community Call Initiative since it began. Volunteers are provided with priority access to the store and with free multi-shop trolley bags to aid with their shopping.

While the pandemic was changing the way customers could shop, Tesco recognised that charities and good causes were confronted with a greater demand for services while their fundraising campaigns were curtailed or paused indefinitely.

- In the last year, over €1 million has been donated to community groups nationwide through the Tesco Community Fund;

- €150,000 was donated and shared between three national charities at the height of the pandemic – Alone, Age Action and Family Carers Ireland;

- In August, €170,000 was raised in one week to help support the little heroes in CHI at Temple Street, Tesco’s charity partner;

- Almost €500,000 worth of food was donated in addition to the regular donations to FoodCloud.

As well as this, Tesco introduced dedicated shopping times for the over-65s, family carers and vulnerable people, and priority access for healthcare workers, care workers and emergency services personnel. Both of these initiatives remain in place today, one year on.