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UK pub operators cut jobs as they swing to losses on lockdowns


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UK pub operators cut jobs as they swing to losses on lockdowns

By Yadarisa Shabong

 

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FILE PHOTO: Customers are seen at a table outside The Island Queen pub, which is run by Mitchells & Butlers, amid the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Islington, London, Britain, September 24, 2020. REUTERS/Simon Newman

 

(Reuters) - British pub operators Mitchells & Butlers and Fuller, Smith & Turner said on Thursday they had cut around 1,650 jobs and suffered millions in financial losses as the hospitality industry reels from new lockdowns.

 

The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) has warned of thousands, if not tens of thousands, of job losses if the government does not give pubs more freedom or grants to help them cover fixed costs in order to survive winter.

 

M&B, which owns All Bar One, Harvester and Browns, said it had cut 1,300 jobs. Smaller rival Fuller’s said its total number of employees had been reduced by 20% following about 350 job cuts, the sale of its pizza chain The Stable and through natural attrition.

 

The companies said they have enough resources to operate in the foreseeable future, but the downside scenarios cast doubts about their ability to continue as going concerns.

 

“We are optimistic about the future in the medium term and beyond, but there is no doubt that this will be a tough winter,” Fuller’s CEO Simon Emeny said.

 

Shares in M&B, which have lost around 50% of their value so far this year, fell 3.8% and Fuller’s was down 2.3% at 1156 GMT.

 

Others in the industry have already reduced their workforce, with Marston’s planning to cut 2,150 jobs and cheap beer specialist J D Wetherspoon has cut staff at its head office and airport pubs.

 

Pubs, restaurants and hotels have been among the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, with social distancing measures and curfews hitting capacity even when establishments have not been forced to shut altogether by lockdowns.

 

The current lockdown in England started on Nov. 5 and is set to end on Dec. 2, but tough restrictions are expected to continue in many areas, and pubs and restaurants in the toughest third tier will only be allowed to reopen for takeaways.

 

“The government must do more to help our pubs, the livelihoods they support,” BBPA’s Chief Executive Emma McClarkin said on Wednesday. “If not, this really could be the end of the pub in Britain as we know it.”

 

M&B reported an adjusted pretax loss of 32 million pounds ($43 million) for the year ended Sept. 26 and Fuller’s a first-half loss of 22.2 million pounds.

 

With 1.56 billion pounds in net debt as of Sept. 26, M&B in June had agreed to revised financing arrangements with its main creditors to bolster its available reserves after avoiding a debt default in April.

 

M&B employs about 44,000 people, according to its website, in 1,700 pubs across Britain, while Fuller’s employed 4,957 people in over 200 pubs, its latest annual report showed.

 

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-- © Copyright Reuters 2020-11-26
 
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2 hours ago, sawadee1947 said:

Profit losses vs life losses? 

Pathetic! 😕

 Job losses and livelihood losses.

 

It's not just the big chains, of course. It's their tenants and leasehold owners as well as freehouse owners who are at grave risk of losing everything they have. 

 

If you're in the UK, watch Saving Britain’s Pubs with Tom Kerridge.

 

Filming started last November, and the first two episodes were filmed before Covid; Episode three, first broadcast last night, deals with the effects of the first lockdown.

 

I'll be in tier 2 from next week, where 

Quote

 

you must not socialise with anyone you do not live with or who is not in your support bubble in any indoor setting, whether at home or in a public place

and

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pubs and bars must close, unless operating as restaurants. Hospitality venues can only serve alcohol with substantial meals

 

But there is no clear guidance on what the government deems a substantial meal!

 

Of course, it's not just pubs. This pandemic has devastated the whole hospitality and tourism industry; which, according to this government report, in June 2019 delivered £66bn Gross Value Added contribution to the UK economy and employed around 3 million people.

 

Of course, measures must be taken to limit the effect of the pandemic, and had this government acted sooner and more effectively last March, such as Thailand did for example, we may not be in the predicament we are now.

 

But even so, I have to wonder if these new restrictions are going to be helpful, let alone necessary. It smacks of panic in the higher echelons of government..

 

Many Tory MPs agree these measures are unnecessary: Covid tiers: Tory MPs urge Boris Johnson to justify restrictions

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Conservative MPs have asked the government to justify putting 55 million people in England into the two highest tiers of Covid restrictions when lockdown ends next Wednesday.

A group of Tory rebels called the plan - which goes to a vote on Tuesday - "authoritarianism at work".

 

Boris Johnson defends new Tier system amid Tory backlash

Quote

Sir Graham Brady, Tobias Ellwood and Sir Robert Syms are among those planning to vote against the Government next week, with the 1922 Committee chairman blasting the "authoritarian" measures. 

 

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