At this challenging time we appreciate that owners and operators need information in order to understand their options. Fleurets remain available by email and telephone, and continue to provide all our usual advisory and transactional services, as we work together to support your business’s needs.
Chancellor announces furlough phasing and new flexible scheme
The current furlough scheme will run as planned for June and July before being phased out at the end of October. In August employers will pay for the NI and Pension contributions, in September the government will pay 70% and in October 60% with employers picking up the balance of 10% & 20%. The new flexible furlough scheme will come into force from the 1st July providing great flexibility in when employees work and when they are on furlough. In essence the government will pay for the period they do not work and the employers for the period they do work. For instance, your employer could bring you back two days a week. They pay you for the two days and the furlough scheme covers the other three.
There are increasing hopes that the 2m rule will be relaxed
PM Boris Johnson has suggested that he wants the rule to be eased to help shops and pubs reopen. He has asked the Sage experts to look into it. The BBPA says that guidance from the World Health Organisation should be used, i.e. that only 1m of space needs to be kept to prevent the spread of infection. Germany and the Netherlands recommend 1.5 metres. The BBPA says such a move would increase the number of pubs that would be able to open by 120%. Hugh Osmond, investor and founder of Punch Taverns, has told Propel the hospitality industry needs to be brave and call out the "ridiculous and unjustified two-metre social distancing rule. Maintaining lock-down or opening with ridiculous two-metre social distancing rules will kill retail and kill the hospitality industry. A healthy 20-year-old is more at risk of being struck by lightning than dying of covid-19, and at far more risk of drowning, a traffic accident or suicide".
Social distancing in pubs will be difficult
Michael Gove told LBC Radio "Opening up pubs, restaurants and bars after the coronavirus lock-down is difficult so there will be no standing at the bar in pubs for a long time. What I hope we may be able to see is people being able to have outdoor hospitality, so you can enjoy a drink in the garden of a pub or eat outdoors in a cafe. I think it's going to be very difficult to return to any of us standing at the bar or any of us mingling in a cafe indoors in a way that we have in the past."
Balans Soho Society put up for sale
London-based casual dining group Balans Soho Society has placed all seven of its sites on the market. It is understood offers are being invited on the sites in Ealing, Victoria, Kensington, Westfield London and Westfield Stratford, plus the group's two venues in Soho's Old Compton Street. It is thought the sites are available individually.
Pizza Express considering CVA
Pizza Express will undertake a comprehensive review of its business which is reported to include considering a company voluntary arrangement (CVA), which would allow it to shutter some or all of its loss-making branches. Bond holders are owed £1.1bn and in April a £70m loan facility was described as only an "additional step toward a likely broad restructuring of the group's capital structure".
Pubs hoping to reopen from early July
Outdoor markets and car show rooms are to be allowed to open from 1 June, non-essential shops to reopen from 15 June. Pubs and restaurants are hoping to be allowed to open from early July. It is perhaps a missed opportunity that beer gardens were not included in the 1 June or 15 June dates.
A third of pub and restaurant companies will permanently shutter some of their units
CGA says 'industry estimates of the scale of closures vary widely, from below 10% to as high as 30% of total sites. Our survey points to a third expected to stay closed and another third have yet to make up their minds. CGA points out that around two-thirds of the UK's 115,108 licensed venues are independents, some of whom may not have the financial resources to cope with an extended shutdown.
Rustico is set to open its 6th Neapolitan Eatery in Sussex. Rustico Neapolitan Eateries who specialise in delivering authentic street food in simple rustic surroundings will open their next venture after purchasing the Lamb in Lewes through Fleurets. Luca Venditto co-owner commented "In these difficult times we decided to exchange, but delay the completion with all parties taking a very common sense approach"