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Mon 14th Jun 2021 - Ministers weigh up hospitality rescue over billions in unpaid rent
Ministers weigh up hospitality rescue over billions in unpaid rent: Ministers are weighing up a plan to block landlords from kicking pubs and restaurants out of their properties for failing to pay billions of pounds in rent during the pandemic. The Telegraph reports officials are considering proposals to ring-fencing historic debt built up by pubs and restaurants during covid-19, in a move that would allow hospitality companies to continue negotiations with their landlords rather than immediately diverting large sums of cash to pay off bills. The scheme could mean landlords are unable to start evicting commercial tenants. Both Downing Street and the Treasury are understood to have been involved in meetings to discuss what support could be offered to pubs and restaurants, amid expectations prime minister Boris Johnson will today (Monday, 14 June) delay lifting final covid restrictions for at least a month. The government talks have centred around proposals put forward under a consultation that ended early last month. One source said discussions had included what is termed an “Australian” model, which would require both landlords and tenants in commercial properties to share the rent burden for the period where restrictions were in place. The insider said: “In Australia, they’re using a formula of a certain amount of concession by both landlord and tenant, which is then paid off over a number of years. This seems to have been working well. What they have been doing in Australia has gained a lot of credence.” Another source said a decision is set to be made by today. The discussions came as hospitality firms warned they risked collapse should the roadmap be delayed as expected. A government spokesman said: “We understand these are extremely challenging circumstances for the hospitality industry. We are committed to supporting jobs and businesses as we build back better from the pandemic, which is why we continue to provide an extensive package of support such as the Pay As You Grow repayment holidays and are considering responses to a call for evidence on commercial rents.”

First edition of Blue Book now available for Premium subscribers: The first edition of the new Blue Book database has been released to Premium subscribers. The database, which will be updated and expanded each month, ranks the top 215 sector operators by turnover and then by profitability – it shows the top 215 companies had a combined turnover of £25.6bn. It also has a five-year overview of turnover and profit, and shows what percentage of turnover is converted to pre-tax profit – or otherwise. The first edition of the Blue Book shows there are 106 companies in the sector turning over more than £30m, with 76 of them turning over more than £50m and 43 turning over more than £100m. Propel Premium subscribers have also received their monthly update to the multi-site database, which has had 108 companies added since the last release at the end of May. They not only received the database as a PDF and an Excel spreadsheet, they were also sent a 14,000-word report on the businesses added during May. The go-to database, which now features 1,819 companies that collectively operate 58,838 sites, provides company names, the people in charge, how many sites each firm operates, its trading name and its registered name at Companies House if different. Premium subscribers also receive their morning newsletter 11 hours early, at 7pm the evening before our 6am send-out; regular video content and regular exclusive columns from Propel insights editor Mark Wingett. Companies can now have an unlimited number of people receive access to Propel Premium for a year for £895 plus VAT – whether they are an operator or a supplier. The regular single subscription rate of £395 plus VAT for operators and £495 plus VAT for suppliers remains the same. Email jo.charity@propelinfo.com to sign up.

Lockdown easing set for four week delay: Senior ministers have signed off a decision to delay the lifting of all coronavirus restrictions in England beyond 21 June. Government sources have told the BBC most current rules will remain for another four weeks after this date. It means nightclubs will stay closed and people will be encouraged to still work from home where possible. Prime minister Boris Johnson is expected to confirm the delay at a press conference this evening (Monday, 14 June). The extension will be put to a Commons vote this month and could trigger a sizeable Conservative backbench rebellion. Stage four of the government's roadmap out of lockdown would see all legal limits on social contact removed. But many scientists have called for the reopening to be delayed to enable more people to be vaccinated and receive second doses amid rising cases of the Delta variant. A delay would also allow for more work to be done on whether vaccines are breaking, or simply weakening, the link between infections and hospitalisations. On Sunday (13 June), Johnson said a final decision on whether the reopening should be paused had not yet been taken. All areas of Scotland are due to move to level zero covid restrictions on Monday, 28 June – meaning bigger groups can gather in cafes, pubs and restaurants, although they will still have to observe social distancing. Limits on indoor gatherings in Northern Ireland are scheduled to be relaxed on Monday, 21 June – when the current rules in Wales will also be reviewed.

The Avocado Show secures UK debut site: The Avocado Show restaurant franchise has secured its debut site in the UK. Propel understands the brand, which last year announced it would make its UK debut in 2021, has secured a site at 6 Princes Street, located between Regent Street and Hanover Square. The brand currently has three restaurants in Amsterdam and one each in Brussels and Madrid. Founded by Ron Simpson and Julien Zaal, the restaurant serves sustainable avocado-based dishes and last year said it had signed on 19 franchise locations in the UK and Europe, with the possibility of sites in Edinburgh, Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol, Oxford, Cambridge, Guildford and Brighton. Simpson said at the time: “We are excited to see our dream becoming a reality in all these amazing new markets and are happy to have found these great partners to work with and are looking forward to establishing The Avocado Show across the globe as a socially responsible and profitable venture that will bring joy to avocado lovers for years to come.” The company has produced a cookbook, merchandise, a hologram app, its own line of avocado fries and filmed a documentary about its supply chain. The Etch Group is believed to have acted on the London deal. 

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