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Thu 12th Nov 2020 - Update: Young’s, Whitbread and New York
Young’s – last six months one of the toughest periods in our 189 year history: London-based pub retailer Young’s has reported turnover of £51.1m in the 26 weeks ended 28 September, less than one-third of £168.2m turnover for the same period the year before. It lost £21.8m compared to a profit of £24.3m the year before. Patrick Dardis, chief executive of Young’s, said: “Our business recently celebrated 189 years and the last six months has been one of the toughest periods in that incredible journey. The resilience of our customers has truly amazed us. The cautious approach we adopted and the safe environment we provided were key reasons why our customers flocked back in large numbers. The continued efforts of our pub staff to go above and beyond in protecting our customers in these challenging conditions is a testament to our wonderful people. As a business we benefitted from the government’s ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ campaign throughout August, which boosted midweek footfall with diners attracted by the headline 50% discount. We also made use of the government’s much welcomed furlough scheme which enabled us to protect the jobs of nearly 5,000 employees. Despite the challenges presented to us, our rural pubs and hotels, particularly those in the South West and in coastal regions, have delivered like-for-like growth against last year benefitting from the staycations and weekend visitors. These tougher times have also demonstrated our strength in controlling our cost base in a very efficient manner.” He added: “Since the period end and prior to the latest lockdown, trading had been encouraging, with the business achieving 73% of last year’s sales, despite additional government restrictions and introduction of Tier two status for London which affected 80% of our managed estate. Following the latest national lockdown introduced last week, all our pubs closed on 5 November. Whilst we were hoping that a further lockdown could have been avoided, the second lockdown with the financial support available from the government will be considerably less damaging to our business than the potential move to Tier three. For the four-week closure we would expect a cash burn of between £4.0 million and £5.0 million, achieved by the reintroduction of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. We are hopeful that when we re-open on 3 December, we will see the back of the 10pm curfew and London moves to Tier one. We remain positive at the prospect of trading in December. Unfortunately, the typical excitement of the festive period and the opportunities this usually brings us has been replaced with uncertainty. At this time, we would usually have 90% of bookings already in the diary; without the prospect of hosting large group get togethers, corporate Christmas parties and spontaneous festive drinks, the outlook for this December is far from certain. The resilience of our customers has truly amazed us. The cautious approach we adopted on re-opening and the safe environment we provided were key reasons why our customers flocked back in large numbers, even with the heightened restrictions. This gives us confidence in the future of our pubs, our business and our long-term strategy.”

The Times – Whitbread job losses could be eased: The Times has reported that Whitbread is set to reduce the thousands of job cuts it had proposed – it could more than halve the 6,000 job losses announced in September. The Times added: “When Whitbread announced the cuts, it said it was responding to the government’s plan at that time to end the furlough scheme at the end of October, as well as forecasts that demand would remain subdued in the short to medium term. Whitbread’s decision to reduce the number of job losses is believed to have been based on several factors. Alongside the extension of the furlough scheme and hopes that a vaccine could soon become available, staff have shown a willingness to switch to reduced hours or accept redeployment. The group had hoped that the 6,000 cuts, equating to about 18% of its workforce, would largely be achieved voluntarily. It was also close to completing a process to cut its head office of 1,300 people by about 250. Another company reducing planned job cuts is SSP, the airport and station caterer. In June, it announced up to 5,000 job losses across the UK. However, in late August it suggested that the final total might be ‘slightly less than that’ after deciding to retain more management in the expectation that the market would bounce back.”

New York governor Andrew Cuomo orders 10pm curfew: New York governor Andrew Cuomo has ordered that all bars and restaurants across the state must close at 10pm starting from Friday in effort to stave off the ‘second wave’ of covid-19, even though deaths and hospitalisations in New York City are steady. He is also limiting gatherings in private residences to ten people, and say he may reduce the capacity restaurants and bars can have indoors if numbers continue. The statewide covid-19 rate increased to 2.9% which is the highest it has been for months and deaths are increasing in some parts of the state but not all.

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