Graham Royle, Chairman & CEO of the GRI Group
Graham Royle and GRI Group have been a supporter and Sheffield Theatres sponsor for many years.
Graham personally donates up to £250K a year to a variety of charities. As well as Sheffield Theatres, he has given to many smaller local charities so they can continue to provide their great services.
Graham comments: “Sheffield Theatres is a cause I really care about. Theatre brings joy and togetherness. The team at Sheffield Theatres is very dedicated to doing this and I want the institution to survive the Covid-19 pandemic. You can’t beat the experience of being there; I liken it to another love of mine – rugby! Being in a stadium or theatre is being able to experience the passion, spirit and noise altogether!”
GRI Group’s businesses make the ingredients and finished products for a global customer base in personal care, household and institutional cleansing products, such as supermarkets soaps, dish products and sanitisers. These have been essential items during the pandemic, so they have continued to produce throughout lockdown. Demand has been huge and Graham’s factories and personnel have been working very hard to satisfy the demand.
“I saw our sanitising and cleansing products as helping to save lives so in early March, before the lockdown but knowing the severity of the situation, we started to implement procedures for our teams to follow to help them keep well and safe whilst at work.
“We introduced our form of social distancing before the guidelines were introduced; we created extra hygiene routines and provided advice on how our teams could safely travel to and from work. We ensured all our staff had supplies of our sanitising and cleaning products to take home.”
GRI employs 160 staff and thankfully – perhaps due to bringing in these measures so early - none have contracted COVID-19. Crucially, this means that people have felt secure - they know they have a solid job and have felt safe coming to the workplace.
It has been a challenging time securing raw materials and ingredients for products as the limited availability meant prices were inflated by up to 10 times. Graham has been impressed and delighted at the dedication and team spirit shown by the GRI Group workforce. They have stepped up and worked above and beyond to ensure their products are made and distributed.
“Regarding the future”, Graham reflects, “The challenge now is for everyone who has been furloughed to feel confident about coming safely back to work. We need to drive the economy again. Also industries such as mine can manage only so long by communicating with customers via Zoom or Teams. This is purely treading water and we need to get back out there, in front of the customer and back to our networking at exhibitions and conferences. Working from home is temporary for me as I need to be meeting customers face-to-face and that means travelling, both home and abroad. This is about protecting current business and creating new business.”
Paul Gosney, Business Development Director at City Taxis
City Taxis has supported Sheffield Theatres for 10 years, including some memorable on-stage appearances as Lyceum pantomime sponsors.
“We have been ferrying celebrities who have been visiting the theatres for years which has been fun.
“We’ve been working with and sponsoring Sheffield Theatres for 10 years and we feel more than ever that it is important to support the arts at this time. With over 400,000 visitors a year Sheffield Theatres has provided excellent reach.
“The theatre even now has something to offer audiences and the community with their online events and content and we want to continue to support and help them.”
It’s a mutually beneficial relationship and City Taxis worked with Sheffield Theatres to launch their electric pilot project – aiming to become the first taxi company with a fully electric fleet. It was mid-December and the city was very different to now - with the city centre full of shoppers and office workers celebrating Christmas. They had a 40ft branded container that people could walk into and it was decked out with information about the launch.
“During this crisis we have had to adapt and diversify. Our recently launched City Grab was planned anyway, trialled from October 2019 to January 2020, and went live in March. It has proved amazingly popular growing from just 12 deliveries in the first week of lockdown to nearly 5,000 a week! It’s our way of helping support local restaurants and local food producers. We’ve been there to take people from A to B throughout as our 302 hackney carriages had screens already, and now we have over 500 saloon cars that have screens too which can be booked on the app.”
“The future?” Paul continues “Well City Grab has worked and now we are about to extend our services through our City Taxi app to include Collection & Table Service. If you’re out somewhere in participating restaurants and food courts you will be able to order and pay from your phone. This will help in the current times, supporting restaurants to manage customers – a win win.”
If you have a story you’d like to share with the community of Sheffield businesses that support Sheffield, please contact Liz Barran, Fundraising and Commercial Director at [email protected].