The appeal urged locals to sign a pledge citing that they will be a #Caringcustomer on the Support Your Local website and to share this online with friends and family. The appeal was hugely successful with hundreds of locals signing the pledge and the Support Your Local web page receiving over 10,000 views.
To say thank you to the many caring customers across the county who responded to the appeal and signed the pledge, a winner was chosen at random to receive a £100 voucher offered by Shepherd Neame, which has over 300 pubs throughout London and the South East and is an endorser of the campaign.
Produced in Kent and campaign partner Visit Kent presented the winner, Gemma Keith from Marden, with her prize at Shepherd Neame’s The Boathouse at Yalding on September 15th. In attendance were councillor Mike Whiting of Kent County Council, Chief Executive of Produced in Kent, Floortje Hoette, Joanna Richardson, Head of Marketing, Brands and Communication from Shepherd Neame Brewery and CEO Deirdre Wells OBE from Visit Kent.
Councillor Whiting praised the county’s hospitality businesses and encouraged the public to support them following the end of the government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme. “As the hugely generous government scheme winds down, we must now all step up and play our part in supporting local businesses. I encourage everyone to shop locally, have a pint in your village pub, grab a coffee in town, or enjoy a meal in one of Kent’s excellent restaurants. It is vital we maintain local businesses to keep Kent working and growing, which provides employment and opportunities for many”.
Hoette talked of the importance of the hospitality sector for the wider food and drink industry in Kent- “Most independent pubs, restaurants and cafes in Kent are supplied by local growers, producers and wholesalers. So, if the hospitality sector runs into trouble then the entire food and drink industry in Kent does too. A healthy independent food and drink sector boosts the rural economy, creates jobs and preserves the distinct countryside of Kent. This in turn attracts visitors, commuter families, other businesses and investors. And it boosts our health too!
Visit Kent’s Deirdre Wells wrapped up the evening with a plea for residents of Kent to continue showing their support. “There’s truly never been a better time to support our local businesses. We strongly encourage you to head out and discover a new foodie favourite right on your doorstep and continue the pledge to be a caring customer."
Produced in Kent and Visit Kent will be looking to thank another #CaringCustomer as the second appeal starts on the 18th of September and runs through until the 16th of October. The appeal links up with the wine harvest, celebrating Kent Wine. A winner will again be chosen at random from those who sign the pledge in this period and will be presented with a collection of finest Kentish Wines from The Wine Garden of England. The prize will consist of 6 bottles from Hush Heath, Simpsons Estate, Squerryes, Gusbourne, Biddenden, and Chapel Down.
The #CaringCustomer appeal is one of the activities of the county-wide Support Your Local awareness campaign in support of local, independent bars, restaurants, and cafes, which runs from July to December 2020. Customers are encouraged to eat and drink out at their ‘local’ and in so doing, help the Kent hospitality sector recover. By signing the #CaringCustomer pledge customers can show their love for their favourite Kent food and drink businesses – and demonstrate their awareness and care for fellow diners too! The initiative is set to provide a much-needed boost to Kent’s £2.6 billion visitor economy, which has been badly hit since the pandemic.