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Fri 5th Feb 2021 - Darby steps down from SA Brain CEO role as pub deal with Marston’s completes
Darby steps down from SA Brain CEO role as pub deal with Marston’s completes: Alistair Darby has stepped down as chief executive of Welsh brewer and retailer SA Brain following the completion of the deal that sees Marston’s take over the running of its pubs. Darby will be succeeded by Jon Bridge, who has been promoted from operations director. Darby joined SA Brain in July 2018 having held senior positions at a number of major companies in the sector, including managing director of Camerons Brewery, chief operating officer of Marston’s and chief executive of Mitchells & Butlers. He told Propel: “My work is done here, having found a way to safeguard the future of the Brain’s pubs and 1,300 jobs.” Chairman John Rhys has also stepped down with Andrew Winning, currently a non-executive director with the company, taking his place. Marston’s agreed a deal in December that sees it take over the operation of SA Brain’s 156-strong pub estate. The deal sees the Ralph Findlay-led Marston’s operate 141 freehold pubs on a leasehold basis, with rent chargeable from 1 April 2021. The majority of these will be on long lease agreements of 25 years. The outlet level Ebitda on a pre-covid basis is £14m with annual rent at £5.5m. In addition, Marston’s will operate the remaining 15 short-leasehold sites on a management contract basis for a period of two years.

Operators warn reduction in support from Welsh government will cause job losses and business closures: Operators have warned a reduction in support from Welsh government will cause job losses and business closures. During the 17-day firebreak lockdown last year, grants allocated to hospitality businesses in Wales were equivalent to a daily payment of £176 or £294, depending on the rateable value of each business. In contrast, the current funding intended to cover the period from 25 January until 31 March, amounts to just £45 or £75 per day. A survey by the Welsh Independent Restaurant Collective (WIRC) showed 84% of respondents believed the survival of their business would be in doubt as a result of the reduced level of support. A total of 20% said their business would definitely not survive without any additional funding. Meanwhile, 57% said the reduced level of funding would result in further job losses. Speaking on behalf of the WIRC, Natalie Isaac, of 44 Group, said: “We have previously provided Welsh government with evidence of the costs businesses are having to pay out during lockdown, including employer's national insurance, pension contributions and accrued holiday costs in relation to the furlough scheme as well as rent or mortgage payments, standing charges for utilities, security and insurance. It is abundantly clear with the current level of support, an unsustainable deficit now exists. Without a further extension of funding, many businesses will be forced to make further cuts to jobs, or to close.”

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