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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Mon 16th Aug 2021 - More than 7,000 licensed premises still closed
More than 7,000 licensed premises still closed: More than 7,000 licensed premises have not yet returned after last month’s “Freedom Day”, the latest Market Recovery Monitor from CGA and AlixPartners reveals. While it is expected that some are still planning their restart or are waiting for trading conditions to improve – especially in Scotland and Wales, where restrictions were lifted later than in England – others are unlikely to open again. According to the Market Recovery Monitor just under 5,000 of Britain’s licensed premises opened their doors again in July to bring the sector to more than 90% of its capacity. The wave of reopenings was partly triggered by Freedom Day in England on 19 July, which allowed many venues, in particular nightclubs and late-night bars, to trade for the first time since March 2020. Across Britain, 98,790 licensed premises were open by the end of July – 93% of the total known sites. The report highlights sharp contrasts between sectors of the hospitality market, including a stronger reopening for eating venues than drinking ones – 98.1% of food-led licensed premises were back trading by the end of July, compared with 91.4% of wet-led sites. Managed restaurant, pub and bar groups are, meanwhile, returning at a faster pace than independents. Some 98.7% of managed sites are now open – significantly higher than the 89.9% of independently run venues. The new Market Recovery Monitor also provides a review of hospitality’s site numbers over the course of the pandemic. Britain’s total licensed premises plunged by more than 9,000 between spring 2020 and 2021 – 8.1% of the pre-covid total, and equivalent to one net closure every hour. However, total site numbers have edged up slightly in the past two months, indicating confidence and investment in the sector are starting to return. AlixPartners managing director Graeme Smith said: “The long-awaited Freedom Day marked the beginning of a new chapter for hospitality with the focus for operators now shifting to securing a return to viability after almost 18 months of closure and heavily restricted trading. But more than 7,000 sites remain in limbo and the question now must be whether these venues will ever reopen under their current ownership or be lost permanently. The well-publicised challenges in the market around labour and product supply only add to a complex picture during what should be peak trading season, with operators across the country taking drastic action through reducing their hours or closing as a direct consequence of these issues.”
AlixPartners is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member

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