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Mon 15th Aug 2022 - Update: Sector warns of mass winter closures as energy bills soar 300%
Sector warns of mass winter closures as energy bills soar 300%: Pub, restaurant and hotel chiefs have warned the industry could face mass closure this winter without “urgent” support from the government. In a joint letter to Boris Johnson, chancellor Nadhim Zahawi and business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, seen by The Telegraph, the UK’s leading hospitality groups said the situation was “no less of a threat” than the drought hitting Britain. Trade bodies called for “urgent action” to help with bills, saying the government should not “allow the stasis of party politics to stifle the urgent delivery of action on energy”. The sector is calling for a cut to VAT or an energy price cap, such as that in place for customers. It comes as pubs and restaurants prepare to sign new energy deals as old tariffs expire this autumn. Businesses are facing average increases of 300% under new deals being offered. The letter, signed by groups representing tens of thousands of hospitality venues across the country, warned “not all businesses will be able to survive this onslaught”. Ministers have been engaging with hospitality bosses for weeks, although government insiders said the cabinet has agreed not to make any major announcements or fiscal decisions until a new Conservative leader is selected. However, Kwarteng was moved to take action to support energy-intensive industries, such as producers of glass, ceramics and paper. On Friday (12 August), the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy said it was considering subsidising bills for the industry to help save the 60,000 jobs in the industry. There are no signs of similar support for hospitality. The letter from UKHospitality, the Night Time Industries Association, the British Beer & Pub Association, the British Institute of Innkeeping, and the Music Venue Trust said: “On Friday, the government saw fit to declare a drought, in the face of inarguable evidence that weather conditions had caused a threat to the nation. The energy crisis is no less of a threat and deserves similar attention.” A recent survey showing one in four hospitality bosses are considering closing due to the steeper bills. Alan Morgan, chief executive of The Big Table Group, said support had “never been more critical”, with the increase in energy prices so steep “that it moves many reasonable businesses to a position of struggling to make profit at all”. Morgan said he was expecting a “significant amount of closures across the industry”. Clive Watson, executive chairman of City Pub Group, said there “has to be a price cap, otherwise pubs will start to close during the winter”. Many businesses have already drawn up plans to curb their energy use over the winter months, with hotels understood to be looking at shutting spas or mothballing certain floors. Theatre chiefs are considering whether they can change how much lighting or air conditioning they use in venues to try to cut their energy bills. Ali Carnegie, the managing director at energy broker Total Energy Solutions, said businesses trying to sign new energy deals were “shocked at how much the prices have gone up”.

Number of pub operators set to join updated Premium Database of Multi-site Companies: A number of pub operators are among the 36 new multi-site companies being added to the next edition of the Propel Premium Database of Multi-site Companies, which will be released on Friday, 26 August, at midday. The updated Propel Multi-Site Database, which is produced in association with Virgate, features Pubs Limited, the brainchild of Jerry Brunning, the co-founder of Brunning & Price, which portfolio includes The Swan at Marbury, The Black Bear in Whitchurch, The Hare in Farndon and the recently opened The Henry Potts in Watergate Street, Chester. Also added this month is Midlands micro-pub brand Ale Hub, which is owned by Connor McDiarmid, and opened its first branch in Dickens Heath, Solihull, in September 2020, and has since expanded to Shirley, Worcester, Sutton Coldfield and Droitwich. In addition, New Dawn Pubs, which was founded by Mark Robson, Mark Williams, Julian Clarke and Julie Phipps, who founded Red Mist Leisure in 2004, will be featured. Also included this month is Clement Ogbonnaya, the operator of the Prince of Peckham and the Queen of the South, in Tulse Hill, which will open later this year. Premium subscribers will also receive a 2,500-word report on the new additions to the database. The comprehensive database is updated monthly and 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. The database currently features 2,572 companies. Premium subscribers will also receive the next edition of the New Openings Database, which is produced in association with StarStock, on Friday, 2 September, at midday. It focuses on newly announced openings and upcoming launches in the sector and is updated every month. The next edition also includes a 10,000-word report on the new additions to the database. Premium subscribers also receive access to another database – the Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book, which is produced in association with Mapal Group. The Blue Book, which is also updated monthly provides an insight into UK operator turnover and profitability over five years, profit conversion and directors’ earnings. Premium subscribers have also been given exclusive access to a new database. The UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database is an exhaustive guide to the companies offering a food and beverage franchise in the UK and will be updated every two months. The third edition features 140 companies and almost 60,000 words of content, providing insight on the offer, locations, cost and other key details. 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 single subscription rate is £445 plus VAT for operators and £545 plus VAT for suppliers. Email jo.charity@propelinfo.com to upgrade your subscription. Subscribers also receive access to Propel’s library of lockdown videos and Friday Wrap interviews and now also have access to a curated video library of the sector’s finest leaders and entrepreneurs, offering their insights on running outstanding businesses in the sector. 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 Mark Wingett.

City of London has lost 14% of its restaurants since pandemic: The City of London has borne the brunt of restaurant closures in the UK since the onset of the pandemic, with one in seven businesses shutting as the switch to homeworking has hobbled the hospitality sector in the financial district. Between March 2020 and June this year, 14% of the licensed premises in the Square Mile shut, according to data collected by AlixPartners and CGA, reports the FT. About 14% of restaurants also closed in Birmingham, England’s second-biggest city. The next worst-affected city was Glasgow where 10% of hospitality businesses closed. Only the London boroughs of Croydon, Ealing and Hounslow faced a higher number of restaurant closures. Before the coronavirus pandemic, the capital was adding restaurants, bucking a trend for closures in the rest of the UK. The number of venues was up 10% in the five years between March 2014 and March 2019. This year’s figures reveal the changes wrought by the pandemic on the City and other business districts where restaurants, pubs and cafes typically relied on office workers for custom. In early August, visits to workplaces in the City of London were 33% down on pre-pandemic levels, according to Google mobility data. Some of the high-profile casualties in the Square Mile over the past two years include Kym’s, the restaurant from Michelin-starred chef Andrew Wong in the Bloomberg Arcade, Mark Hix’s Oyster and Chop House near Smithfield Market, and Jamaican restaurant Tracks & Records near Liverpool Street station, which was backed by athlete Usain Bolt. But Graeme Smith, managing director at AlixPartners, said “given the catastrophic events of the past two years, numbers have held up well”. Many companies in the City have adopted a three-day office week between Tuesday and Thursday. The average footfall for Mondays in July was down almost 30% on pre-pandemic levels, according to Springboard. Before the pandemic, the City typically attracted 530,000 commuters every day.

Esquires owner plans London stock market float: Britain’s fourth-largest coffee shop chain is drawing up plans to list on the London stock market. Cooks Coffee, which owns the Esquires and Triple Two brands, has 72 branches in the UK. It also has 15 outlets in Ireland as well as franchise agreements in Portugal, the Middle East and south east Asia. The New Zealand-based firm is listed on the stock market in Wellington but now plans to also float on London’s Aquis exchange, a competitor to the London Stock Exchange, in October. The company’s stock trades at around 0.42 New Zealand dollars, equivalent to 22p, giving it a market cap of around £11.7m. In total, Cooks Coffee had 114 outlets across all its international markets at the end of July 2022. The group’s operational teams are based in the UK and Ireland. Keith Jackson, executive chairman of Cooks Coffee Company, said: “Being such a predominantly UK and Ireland focused group, it makes sense for us to dual list the company in London and the Aquis Growth Market is ideally suited to our needs. We see considerable opportunities for growth in the UK, and when investors taste our coffee and experience what we offer, we are sure they will agree.” For the year to the end of March, the group posted a profit of £0.14m.

Brewers fear recession will burst craft beer bubble: Another 200 craft breweries opened last year, raising fears the booming sector could go bust if drinkers trade down to cheaper alternatives as the soaring cost of living hits them in the pocket. There are currently more than 2,400 breweries operating in Britain according to figures from HM Revenue & Customs. However, as rising inflation and sky-high energy costs force people to reduce their outgoings, many in the industry are questioning whether demand for pricey artisanal beer can be sustained. Wiper and True, a craft brewery in Bristol, said that the cost of living crisis was “very understandably” hitting sales. “Craft beer is a luxury item for most people, and with the concerns we’re all facing around winter bills, it’s only natural people are thinking twice about buying a £3-plus can,” a spokeswoman told the Times. She added, however, that while the company had noticed that sales of beer to drink at home had slowed, Wiper and True’s two taprooms had remained “consistently busy”. The brewery, founded in 2012, opened its second taproom only last month which has so far been exceeding sales forecasts. But the Society of Independent Brewers estimates between 40 and 60 breweries have closed so far this year, while a further 160 were lost during the pandemic. “People have been talking about the market being oversaturated for many years but now especially it has the feel of a market that can’t sustain everyone that’s in it,” Tom Stainer, chief executive of the Campaign for Real Ale, said. While the total number of start-up breweries has continued to rise over recent years, growth is slowing. The 2021-22 financial year was the third consecutive year of slowing growth, with the number of breweries rising by 9%, having ballooned by almost 18% in 2018-19.

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