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26th August 2020

London pub supports furloughed team members with gift card revenue

London pub The Culpeper has been able to support its furloughed team members by using revenue produced by its online gift vouchers, introduced at the start of lockdown.

Spitalfields pub The Culpeper, like many hospitality businesses, encouraged its customers to buy gift cards during lockdown, with all proceeds going into a new, Employee Emergency Care Fund created as soon as the pub closed its doors, to help team members facing financial hardship.

Using the free Toggle platform to create the gift cards, The Culpeper’s management were able get the cards onto their website quickly and start selling them to customers. Between mid-March and the end of July, they sold £6,000 worth of gift cards.

Initially, The Culpeper used the Care Fund to help a handful of team members who needed money to make rent or pay bills, before the government’s furlough scheme kicked in. After the pub reopened in July, the management analysed trading levels and realised that around half the team members employed before lockdown would be needed back in the business from August onwards. They therefore decided to help those employees not returning to the pub, by using the Care Fund to keep them on furlough for one more month.

Culpeper operations director Sandy Jarvis said: “We were forced to close our doors and send staff home without any kind of support from the government initially, so we knew straight away we’d need a pot of money to help them.  Telling customers that their gift card purchase would help a member of staff during lockdown was really powerful and we’re grateful to our generous customers for helping us in this way.

“In August, The Culpeper had to contribute to the furlough scheme for the first time, which we wouldn’t have been able to do without the money in the Care Fund. So it’s enabled us to keep around 50 of our team members on furlough for the month, giving them a bit more time to find new work and make plans and to give us an extra month to see demand grow and bring more people back. It’s heartbreaking to not be able to bring everyone back, but sadly that’s the reality of the London hospitality sector at the moment.”

Andrew Whiteley, chief experience officer at Airship, the sector technology experts behind the Toggle gift card platform, said: “It’s been great to see how operators have used Toggle to benefit those in need during lockdown and beyond. Selling £6,000 of gift cards is an impressive achievement and shows the support The Culpeper has among its customers, which bodes well for the business’s recovery.”

Other Toggle initiatives include: Crust Bros offering gift cards to deliver free pizzas to London hospitals, Yummy Pubs helping to feed vulnerable or isolating people and Derbyshire pub The Devonshire Arms selling cards to buy a night’s stay for an NHS worker.

The Toggle platform allows hospitality businesses to quickly set up bespoke, branded gift cards. The service will remain free to operators until 1 September, and after that, charges are only applied after £1,000 worth of gift card sales. Users can be up and running in around 30 minutes, making gift cards available for customers to buy online and send to recipients by email.

Hundreds of pubs, bars and restaurants are live on Toggle, including: JW Lees, Yummy Pubs, Boston Tea Party, Brewhouse & Kitchen, Côte, Turtle Bay, San Carlo, Bob Bob Ricard, Park Chinois, Revolución de Cuba, Hickory’s Smokehouse, Ego Restaurants & Rosa’s Thai Café


Issued on behalf of:    Airship/Toggle

By:                               ShielPorter Communications

Further information:    Ros Shiel: / 07841 694137

Notes to editors

  • Airship is one of the hospitality sector’s leading technology specialists, providing technology solutions to drive revenue in thousands of pubs, bars, clubs, restaurants and hotels across the country
  • Airship’s technology offers a number of benefits to operators:
    • Consolidates all existing data points – booking, WiFi, unique code redemption – to provide a single view of customers’ visiting habits: who they are, when where and how often they visit a business
    • Automates communications with customers when they make purchases, log on to wifi, make bookings, celebrate birthdays and many more
    • Keeps data clean and, with our Track & Trace solution, compliant with government guidelines
    • Creates responsive emails and SMS to drive revenue
    • Team of experts on hand to help
    • Single, flat rate charged per location
  • In 2019, Airship launched Toggle, a platform enabling operators to quickly set up online and physical gift vouchers for their business. The platform was made free of charge to operators during lockdown, when many sold vouchers to boost cash flow, support team members and help the business come through closure. From 1 September, charges are being reintroduced, but Toggle remains free for up to £1,000 worth of gift cards sold.
  • Airship’s customers include: JW Lees, Yummy Pubs, Boston Tea Party, Brewhouse & Kitchen, Côte, Turtle Bay, San Carlo, Bob Bob Ricard, Park Chinois, Revolución de Cuba, Hickory’s Smokehouse, Ego Restaurants & Rosa’s Thai Café, Byron Burger
  • Based in Sheffield, Airship was founded in 2003 and currently has 20 employees. Key personnel:
    • Dan Brookman, CEO
    • Andrew Whiteley, chief experience officer
    • Sam Brown, sales director