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Fri 16th Oct 2020 - Pub bosses demand financial support in tier two areas, sector sees sales set-back in September
Pub company leaders demand financial support in tier two areas from government: Pub company leaders from Greene King, Fuller’s, Mitchells & Butlers, Stonegate and Young’s have penned an open letter to chancellor Rishi Sunak demanding a continuation of financial help for its operations in tier two regions. The businesses said pubs in the coronavirus tier two areas are facing closure because restrictions will impact them severely but they will not receive the help that tier three pubs will be offered. Extracts of the letter read: “Major cities across the UK are now being moved into tier two covid measures and the announcement that London is to join them imminently is a cause of grave concern to the pub sector. As chief exeutives of the UK’s largest pub companies, responsible for more than 9,500 pubs, restaurants and late-night bars and more than 105,000 jobs across the country, we are calling for urgent bespoke support for the industry.” The letter, which has been signed by Greene King’s Nick Mackenzie, Fuller’s Simon Emeny, Stonegate’s Simon Longbottom, Mitchells & Butlers’ Phil Urban and Young’s Patrick Dardis, added the pub companies accept the need to control coronavirus but the sector had invested millions of pounds to ensure it is the safest places for people to consume drinks and eat food. The letter continued: “We are now in a position where the government’s response to the pandemic is at risk of causing more harm to the sector than the pandemic itself. Since pubs and restaurants could reopen in the summer, we have been left reeling from low footfall. On average, our pubs and restaurants in London, which have reopened, are experiencing sales down by about 60%-plus year on year. Moving London into tier two further disincentivises customers to return. The perverse reality is that as a sector we are financially better off under tier three measures. While pubs are being closed in other European countries, the financial support made available to them is far greater than is available to pubs in the UK. For example, France is providing 100% wage subsidy until the end of the year and The Netherlands is currently providing 90% wage subsidy. As a minimum, we are asking that you extend the support made available to hospitality businesses under tier three to those under tier two immediately.”

Pub and restaurant groups suffer sales set-back in September: Britain’s managed pub, restaurant and bar groups saw sales fall back significantly in September after August’s Eat Out To Help Out campaign boost and the introduction of the 10pm curfew, according to the latest Coffer Peach Business Tracker. With 88% of group-owned sites reopened, up from 85% in August, total sales across the whole managed sector were nevertheless 20.3% down on the same month last year, compared with being down just 12.2% in August. Like-for-like sales in those businesses trading were 14.7% below September 2019, having been flat in August. Drink-led pubs suffered the most, with total sales down 22.7% and like-for-likes down 21.1% on September last year. Restaurant groups performed better, helped by the cut in VAT on food and delivery sales, with total sales down 19.6%, but like-for-likes just 6.7% below September 2019, helped by the fact that only 72% of group-owned restaurant sites were open and trading during the month. In contrast almost all (96%) of the country’s managed pubs, food-led and drink-led, had reopened. Delivery accounted for 10.4% of sales among restaurant groups in the Tracker cohort in September, up from 8.8% in August and the pre-lock-down level of 5.9% in February. Regionally, London still struggled during September. Total sales across managed pubs, bars and restaurants inside the M25 were down 32.1% on September last year, with collective like-for-like sales in those sites open down 24.2%. In contrast, outside the M25 the market saw like-for-like sales down 12.3% and total sales down 16.7%. Like restaurants, food-led pubs and pub restaurants did better than drink-driven businesses with collective like-for-likes down 10.9% on last September and total sales down 11.9%. For managed pub groups as a whole, total sales were down 17.7% and like-for-likes down 16.4%. Bar groups, which had 79% of their sites trading, had the worst of the month, with like-for-like sales down 37.1% and total sales down 42.7%. At the end of September, underlying annual like-for-like sales for the whole market were down 23.9% on the previous 12 months, with total sales down 35.3%.

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