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Wed 10th Feb 2021 - Pub bosses publish recovery roadmap and press for reopening date as beer sales plummet 56% in 2020
Pub bosses publish recovery roadmap and press government on reopening date as beer sales plummet 56% in 2020: Pub sector bosses and the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) have urged the government to give a clear timeline and date for when pubs can reopen as figures revealed sales of beer plummeted 56% in 2020 – down by £7.8bn. Given the severity of the impact trading restrictions and lockdowns have had on the sector, the BBPA and business leaders have published a recovery roadmap to reopen pubs fully after the current lockdown. The roadmap states post vaccination of the most vulnerable, pubs must reopen when non-essential retail and other parts of the hospitality sector reopen. It also said mandatory trading restrictions – such as alcoholic drinks served only with a substantial meal, no mixed households and the 10pm curfew – must be removed when pubs reopen in a timely way. Upon the reopening of the sector, the BBPA also said the government would need to continue to provide financial support, including an extension to the VAT cut and business rates as well as a significant beer duty cut. Without such a plan to reopen, the BBPA said thousands of local pubs will fail due to their unsustainable debt and cash burn levels. In the second quarter of 2020, which incorporated the first full lockdown, pub beer sales dropped 96%. In the fourth quarter of 2020, when severe time trading and tier restrictions were placed on pubs, as well as a second full lockdown, pub beer sales dropped 77% in comparison to last year. Despite being able to open under less restrictions in the third quarter, a temporary VAT cut on food and soft drinks and the Eat Out To Help Out scheme, pub beer sales were still down 27%. BBPA chairman Philip Whitehead said: “This is not sustainable for our sector. We cannot continue to hold out under these circumstances.” Greene King chief executive Nick Mackenzie added: “2020 was a write-off for pubs and the industry needs a clear plan for reopening as soon as it is safe to do so, without complex and unjustified restrictions that would make it unviable to open.” St Austell Brewery chief executive Kevin Georgel said: “Since March, we’ve worked tirelessly and collaboratively to support the battle against covid-19. Despite these efforts, hospitality continues to suffer more than any other industry.” Mark Davies, chief executive of Hawthorn, the community pub arm of NewRiver, added: “I cannot empathise enough how important it is the government recognises the role that pubs play in so many communities around the UK and pubs are part of the fabric of our society.” William Lees-Jones, managing director of JW Lees, said: “We estimate the current level of government grants and furlough support have reduced our losses by 50% but, like many breweries, 99% of all JW Lees beer is sold in pubs and more than half through our own 150 pubs in the north west.” He added: “We need to learn how to live with the virus as we reopen the country.”

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