Newswire - 27 October

27 October 2020Newswire Topics: Agency, Hotels & Guest Houses, Leisure & Nightclubs, London, Pubs & Bars, Restaurants, Survey
Newswire - 27 October

Support for businesses in Tier Two enhanced

In a rethink over support measures, the Chancellor has announced a new grant scheme that is worth up to £2,100 for every month that Tier Two restrictions apply, backdated to August and grants of up to £3,000 for businesses that have been legally required to close. The Job Support Scheme would be changed meaning the government will now pay at least 62% for hours not worked while the employer contribution has been cut from 33% to 5%. Employees will now take home at least 73% of pay for working a new minimum 20% of hours.

New support "won't touch the sides" in London

Operators in London have warned the enhanced support package for businesses will not be enough to prevent the "slow death of the sector". Tom Brown, from the Cornerstone in Hackney Wick, said: "It's genuinely insulting - £500 a week is nothing. To us, that's about seven or eight customers. This week alone, we had 100 cancellations. It's like he's taken all the food off the table and thrown us a scrap while expecting us to be grateful." The London mayor said: "This latest announcement is just a sticking-plaster solution that still fails to match the true scale of the problem."

Bids in for Stonegate/Ei Group CMA package

It is understood offers have been submitted to acquire the 42 pubs, placed on the market to address competition concerns surrounding Stonegate Pub Company's acquisition of Ei Group. The package comprises 30 freehold and 12 leasehold sites and consists of 32 Ei Group-owned properties and 10 Stonegate.

Tier restrictions impact on trade levels

CGA's data shows businesses in Tier Three saw their daily sales drop 60% - 62% year-on-year (15 to 17 October). A 26% fall compared with the previous Saturday. While Tier Two saw sales down 46% - 54%. Tier One areas saw sales down 22% - 28%. CGA's data indicated a particularly steep drop in drinks sales:- Tier Three -73%, Tier Two -59% and Tier One -31%.

Business meetings "loophole"

Meeting people inside pubs and restaurants in Tier Two and Tier Three areas is not allowed, but the government and local authorities suggested such meetings were permitted so long as they are for "work purposes". Government guidance stipulates up to 30 people from different households may meet indoors for work purposes, as long as the place they are meeting is set up to follow covid-secure guidelines.

Polpo has been placed into administration

CG&Co have been appointed joint administrators for the business, which operated sites in Soho and Chelsea. Some sites may have already been bought back under new vehicles. The business underwent a company voluntary arrangement last year.

Hawthorn Leisure extend rent support to tenants

More help will be provided because it does not feel the government's financial package is sufficient. Pubs affected by the Welsh "fire break" and Tier Three will get 100% for an initial four-week period. Tier Two will get 33% to 80%, based on affordability. Tier One will be eligible for individual support where tenants are not able to meet all outgoings.

And Finally...

Government policies are destroying pubs and communities. North West brewers & pub companies: Holts, Hydes, JW Lees, Robinsons and Thwaites say Tier Three pointlessly victimises and destroys pubs, their employment and our Northern communities. The companies say "we are on the ground - we are not running our pubs in a theoretical intellectual and political bubble 200 miles away in Westminster." They say "the current government policy to single out pubs for closure in Tier Three with inadequate support is a national disgrace."

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Graeme Bunn

Graeme Bunn

Managing Director

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