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Fri 26th Feb 2021 - Sector leaders write to chancellor pleading for emergency support
Sector leaders write to chancellor pleading for emergency support to stop more businesses failing before they have chance to reopen: More than 200 industry leaders along with sector trade bodies have written to the government warning it that unless a substantial package of support is announced at next week’s Budget, more businesses will fail before they have a chance to reopen. UKHospitality, the British Beer and Pub Association and the British Institute of Innkeeping – as well as sector leaders – have written to chancellor Rishi Sunak highlighting the dire position of many businesses and the urgent need for financial support. The letter warned one in five businesses do not have enough cash to survive the rest of February; almost two-thirds do not have enough cash to survive until the end of May; businesses are spending, on average, £10,000 per month to remain closed; and trading restrictions will leave businesses unable to break even until the June lifting of restrictions. The letter called on the chancellor to unveil an urgent package of support at the Budget to bridge the latest closure period including an extension of the 5% VAT rate with the cut widened to include other products and services across hospitality; a full business rates holiday for 2021-22; extension of full furlough with no national insurance contributions for closed businesses; enhanced grants for hospitality businesses until 21 June with State Aid rules disapplied; a beer duty cut; no repayment of HM Revenue & Customs debts before 1 July; and an extension of the rent moratoria with government and stakeholders working towards finding a solution to the rent debt crisis. In a joint statement, the trade bodies said: “This week’s announcement of the plan for reopening the economy has sent shock waves through the nation’s hospitality businesses. There is a genuine fear among many in our sector that businesses are going to fail and jobs will be lost at the 11th hour. Meanwhile, costs continue to pile up for businesses that cannot yet open, only putting more at risk. Many businesses that provide crucial jobs and support investment in communities across the country will fail before they have a chance to reopen their doors. The chancellor must announce a substantial package of financial support at next month’s Budget to keep these businesses alive until the summer. After a year of misery, the end is now finally in sight. The government cannot allow business to fail now, when the reopening of our sector is within touching distance. Members of the public are desperately looking forward to socialising with their friends and family, for the first time in more than a year in many cases. If the government does not act, they may not be able to.”

68 Conservative MPs sign letter urging chancellor to cut beer duty: A letter signed by 68 Conservative MPs has been sent to HM Treasury, imploring chancellor Rishi Sunak to cut beer duty in his Budget statement on Wednesday (3 March). The initiative was driven by Richard Holden, MP for north west Durham, who is a member of the All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group and has championed the Long Live The Local campaign. It follows concerted calls from the beer and pub sector for increased support from the chancellor in his Budget following the announcement of prime minister Boris Johnson’s roadmap to reopening, which confirmed pubs will not be able to fully open inside and outside without trading restrictions until mid-June at the earliest. The British Beer & Pub Association has previously said the very cautious reopening of pubs will cost the sector £1.5bn in lost trade in April alone, as three in five pubs will not be able to open or be viable with outside service only. The UK pays £3.6bn in beer duty each year. At present, £1 in every £3 spend in a pub goes to the Treasury in a range of taxes including beer duty. To date, more than 500,000 people have signed the Long Live The Local petition calling on the government to cut beer duty. More than 275,000 people have also written to their local MP asking them to urge the chancellor to cut beer duty. Holden said: “While the government support has been welcome, it has not made up for the massive impact of being closed for so long on these vital local institutions. The best way for them to build back better after this crisis is to get people back into pubs and the best encouragement for publicans and the public is to see real action on beer duty.” 

YO! appoints new chairman: YO!, the global, multi brand Japanese and Asian food group, has appointed John Walden, formerly of Naked Wines, Holland & Barratt and Argos, as its new chairman, as the company sees “significant opportunities” to further progress its multi-channel strategy. Eric Nicoli, who joined YO! as chairman in 2015 following the acquisition of the company by Mayfair Private Equity, is stepping down to pursue other interests. YO! said Walden has been at the “forefront of multi-channel, consumer-driven retailing for more than 20 years”. As well as advising consumer-facing businesses and private equity investors through Inversion LLC, the US based retail focused management and strategy consultancy he founded 13 years ago, he has extensive board experience of multi-channel consumer focused businesses in the UK and US. Previous roles include chairman at Naked Wines, where he oversaw the sale of Majestic Wines and its enhanced focus on the US market, and executive chairman at Holland & Barratt following the acquisition by LetterOne. From 2012 to 2016, he was managing director of Argos and then chief executive of its parent company Home Retail Group, where he led the digital transformation and sale of Argos to Sainsbury’s. During his time at YO!, Nicoli helped lead the transformation into a global multi brand, multi-channel food group, with 75% of revenues now coming from North America. Richard Hodgson, chief executive of YO!, said: “The past 12 months have demonstrated the value in our diversified multi-channel strategy. Against the backdrop of a very difficult year for hospitality businesses across the globe, we have been able to grow thanks to our retail business in North America, which has remained open throughout. As we now start to emerge from the pandemic, we see significant opportunities to further progress our multi-channel strategy and I am delighted John has agreed to join our board as chairman at this time. He brings with him extensive experience from both sides of the Atlantic which will be invaluable as the group moves to the next phase of growth. I want to thank Eric for his role in the transformation of the group over the past six years and wish him all the best with his future projects.” Walden said: “Richard and the team have created a food group like no other, and there is still a lot to play for. I am excited about bringing my experience to the board and supporting Richard and the management team as they look to capitalise on this opportunity.”

Costa extends Deliveroo link up to 500 sites: Costa Coffee has signed a new delivery partnership with Deliveroo, which will see it extend its delivery offer to across 500 of its sites from Monday (1 March). The partnership will allow those with the Deliveroo app in England, Scotland and Wales to order coffee and selected hot and cold food items from Costa’s menu. Becky Brock, commercial and customer director for Costa Coffee UK & Ireland, said: “Our customers are at the heart of what we do and over the past 12 months, they have continually fed back that they want to enjoy their favourite Costa Coffee, their way – whether through click and collect via our stores, at one of our Costa Express machines, collected through one of our drive-thrus, but also delivery is key as they juggle home-life. We’re pleased to offer an expanded service.” Costa initially began a delivery trial with Deliveroo through six of its London-based sites in 2019.

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