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Thu 25th Feb 2021 - Boris Johnson confirms lower alcohol duty in pubs and restaurants is being considered
Boris Johnson confirms lower alcohol duty in pubs and restaurants is being considered: Boris Johnson has revealed chancellor Rishi Sunak is considering rolling out lower rates of alcohol duty for pubs and restaurants than for supermarkets as the chancellor prepares to unveil his Budget on 3 March. Tory MPs have urged the government to treat pubs differently to large retailers to stop them being ‘undercut by cheap supermarket booze’. Johnson said at PMQs that a review into so-called ‘differentiation’ has been carried out and Mr Sunak is ‘looking very closely at the findings’. Tory MP Giles Watling raised the alcohol duty issue at PMQs and said: ‘My right honourable friend will know that pubs have been closing all over Britain for decades now, tearing the hearts out of communities. This terrible pandemic has made things even worse but part of the problem is undercutting by cheap supermarket booze. Now we are out of the EU surely we can do as we please on beer duty. Differentiation in favour of on sales could deliver great benefits to pubs in communities like Clacton at nil cost to the taxpayer. Will my right honourable friend commit ministers to look at this differentiation proposal?’ Johnson replied: “He makes an extremely good point which I am sure will be heard with great interest around the country. There is just such a review being carried out after consulting pub owners and brewers and others and I know that the chancellor is looking very closely at the findings.’ The Daily Mail reported that Sunak is also poised to announce further VAT and business rate cuts for the hospitality and tourist industries, continue the stamp duty holiday and extend the jobs furlough scheme. The Mail has also reported that Treasury officials are examining even more dramatic plans for a major stimulus to the economy later this year. A return of last summer’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme is another possibility. A cabinet source confirmed that existing support packages – including the VAT cut from 20% to 5%, as well as the business rates holiday – would be extended until the summer. The £50 billion furlough scheme will be extended until the end of June when the government hopes to lift all restrictions. “There is broad agreement that the support package has to go hand in hand with the roadmap,” the source said.”

Sponsored message – Peroni Libera 0.0% partners with Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One team as it widens awareness of alcohol-free brand: Peroni Libera 0.0%, the super premium alcohol-free beer brand, has announced a long-term, multi-year, partnership with the Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One team. The partnership celebrates the global launch of Peroni Libera 0.0% as the Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One team prepares to make its return to Formula One after more than 60 years. The partnership plays a key role in the ambitions of the Peroni brand’s parent company, Asahi Europe & International, to have 20% share of its portfolio dedicated to non-alcoholic products by 2030. Peroni Libera 0.0% is “crafted with Italian passion and flair, to deliver a crisp and refreshing beer with 0.0% alcohol content”. Richard Ingram, global brands director at Asahi Europe & International, said: “This is a landmark moment for Peroni Libera 0.0% and an opportunity to take our alcohol-free beer brand Peroni Libera 0.0% to consumers through the platform of Formula One. By partnering with the Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One team we believe we are creating an alliance of two iconic brands with fantastic synergies around style, heritage and passion. As health and well-being continues to drive innovation in the beer category, this partnership will widen the awareness of Peroni Libera 0.0%.” Click here to find out more

Soho House eyes $3bn flotation: Soho House, the chain of private members’ clubs, is poised to join the flotation boom as it plans to list in New York with a valuation of as much as $3 billion, according to The Times. The newspaper added: “The company, which pulled a mooted $2 billion Wall Street float in 2018, has hired JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley for a second attempt, aiming to capitalise on America’s buoyant equity markets, new digital ventures and a membership that has proved resilient despite the impact of coronavirus. It intends to make its formal filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission next month. At a $100m funding round last summer, the business was valued at $2 billion. An IPO could fetch a higher valuation with Soho House being marketed as a subscription business. Despite the pandemic forcing closure of clubs and emptying city centres, only 10,000 of its 100, 000 membership cancelled their memberships, which cost £1,750 a year. The clubs have a 50,000 waiting list.”

Various Eateries – we plan to expand the business as soon as we are given the green light by the government: Various Eateries, which raised £25m in successful AIM listing, has argued that increased availability of attractive sites, reduced competition, availability of talent and changes in consumer behaviour provide the ideal backdrop to the company’s growth strategy. The company reported ‘better than anticipated trading when the group re-opened, from July to September’ last year. Like-for-like revenue generated from Coppa estate was up 0.8% despite all the restrictions that were in place. The company said there was a particularly good performance post re-opening at sites outside of London over the same period – like-for-like revenue generated from its Coppa estate outside of London was up 24%. Three sites achieved their record trading weeks in the period. Total group revenue for the year to 27 September 2000 was down 36% to £16.5m (FY19: £25.6m). There was an Ebitda loss before exceptional costs for the year of £1.7m with total loss after exceptional costs and impairments of £14.4m. A business interruption insurance interim payment of £2.5m has been received with negotiations regarding claims ongoing. Andy Bassadone, executive chairman of Various Eateries, said: “With a pandemic, a substantial restructuring and our successful fund-raising and listing on AIM, 2020 was a remarkable year for Various Eateries that puts us in an excellent position in 2021. The opportunities as we move out of the covid-19 era are enormous and with strong liquidity, contemporary formats, a compelling growth strategy and a management team with a proven track record of delivery, we are confident in our ability to capitalise on them. While lockdowns restricted our ability to trade in the year, sales in the periods we were able to open were above our expectations and bode well for the future. Operationally we were also able to make significant progress, with the opening of our first Tavolino and the new Coppa Club in Cobham of particular note. Both through closures and new openings, our teams have responded brilliantly and I would like to thank them all for their hard work, patience and understanding in what has been a challenging time for them and their families. It has been difficult to watch as the virus continues to devastate our industry, but it has panned out as we expected, validating our approach and making us even more determined to make a contribution to the recovery. As soon as we are given the green light by government, we plan to expand the business, to employ more people and to give customers high-quality experiences of hospitality, perfectly suited to a post lockdown world. With large sites, extensive outdoor space and all-day offer, Coppa Club is perfectly suited to the increase in remote working and Tavolino is poised to take advantage of the availability of prime high street sites across the UK. There will inevitably be volatility as we emerge from the pandemic, but we are expecting a strong bounce back in the sector once restrictions are lifted and look forward to driving growth as soon as circumstances permit.”

CGA business leaders survey reveals short-term stress, long-term optimism: Hospitality leaders are optimistic about the long-term future of the sector and its role in the UK’s economic recovery—but urgent support is needed to sustain businesses through to reopening. Those are among the headlines from the CGA Business Leaders’ Survey 2021, which sets out the extreme vulnerability of many firms, as well as cautious confidence for renewal in the second half of the year. The survey, sponsored by Fourth, shows that one in 10 (9%) leaders predict their businesses will not survive if no additional support is announced in the chancellor’s Budget on Wednesday (3 March). Only just over a third (37%) think their businesses can return to profit this year without fresh support. But there are also signs of confidence about prospects from mid-April, when a limited restart of hospitality is due to begin. Half (51%) of business leaders surveyed by CGA are confident about prospects for the sector over the next 12 months—more than triple the number who felt the same way in November (14%). The number feeling confident about their own businesses has doubled, from 27% to 54%.There is evidence that many businesses will be seeking to grow rather than shrink their portfolios. Three in five (59%) leaders anticipate opening new sites in 2021—a notable increase of 11 percentage points since November, and much higher than the number of leaders (31%) who anticipate keeping some sites shut for good. Phil Tate, group chief executive at CGA, said: “This survey shows business leaders will be walking a tightrope in 2021. Nearly 12 months on from hospitality’s first compulsory closure, many thousands of venues and jobs have now been lost for good. But it’s also encouraging to see that many businesses are optimistic about long-term prospects, and confident enough to be thinking about opening rather than closing sites. It’s clear that a year of significant churn lies ahead, and as in all periods of crisis there will be winners as well as losers.” The survey highlights the crucial role of hospitality businesses in regenerating the UK’s economy and keeping people safe. More than four in five leaders (81%) think hospitality can make a positive contribution to the UK’s post-covid recovery by boosting the economy, while nearly nine in ten (87%) believe their guidelines have been effective in ensuring the safety of both guests and staff after previous lockdowns.

Shaftesbury – the coming months will herald the revival of the West End: Landlord Shaftesbury, the Real Estate Investment Trust that owns a 16-acre portfolio in the heart of London’s West End, has reported it collected 45% of rent owed for the quarter to 31 December 2020. 36% of January 2021 rents have been collected to date. Brian Bickell, chief executive, said: “The relaxation of pandemic restrictions will herald the revival of the West End’s economy in the months ahead, with a gradual return of local and domestic footfall and the reopening of hospitality businesses, shops and its world-renowned cultural and leisure attractions. Our strategy of supporting the survival and reopening of our existing hospitality and retail businesses is aimed at ensuring our locations will be animated, interesting and welcoming for returning customers. Our portfolio is located in the heart of the most vibrant part of London and we are optimistic that the appeal of our carefully-curated destinations will drive the return of footfall and trading.”

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