Pub chain Fuller’s has been forced to close its busy London venues ‘indefinitely’ blaming a lack of government support for the limping hospitality sector.
Chief executive Simon Emeny revealed that he would be closing 20 London sites following the introduction of new lockdown restrictions to stop the spread of Omicron which were not accompanied by fresh financial support by government. Speaking on Sky News yesterday Emeny said sales at London sites are down 60 to 80 per cent giving the hospitality giant no choice but to close busy sites in central London.
“Operating a large number of units in central London, we’re really in the eye of this hospitality challenge,” Emeny told Sky News.
“We are closing 20 of what would have been our busiest sites indefinitely,” he continued, lashing out at the “pitiful” level of support offered to the industry, despite new guidance from government to think carefully before attending social gatherings in the run up to Christmas.
Emeny said the government has given the public mixed messages. Last week Chris Whitty urged people to only attend social gatherings that “really matter to them” while Boris Johnson said to “think carefully” before attending festive events without ordering venues to close.
“Engagement with the sector over the last three weeks has been very, very late – and very rushed,” Emeny continued. “The only way through this though, having given those mixed messages to customers, is to give financial support to the sector. The country needs a vibrant hospitality sector coming out of this.On top of creating “operational difficulties”, the messaging was also “confusing customers”, he said.
“My worry for everybody at the moment is those staff that aren’t going to be working on Monday who have got families to feed over the Christmas period, who are working for companies who now have zero sales,” he warned questioning who will pay Fuller’s employees now that pubs have shut.