Greene King pubs boss pleads for reopening date as industry wrote off 2020 with £7.8bn sales hit
The boss of FTSE-listed pubs giant Greene King is among brewers asking the UK government for reopening dates and a way out of restrictions that have left a £7.8bn hole in industry sales.
Greene King, St Austell Brewery and others joined The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) to urge the Government to set a date for when pubs can reopen.
The call comes as it was revealed capacity limits, curfews and other restrictions in 2020 caused sales of beer to plummet by 56 per cent lasy tear – down by £7.8bn.
Nick Mackenzie, Greene King’s chief exec, said:
“2020 was a write-off for pubs and the industry needs a clear plan for reopening as soon as it is safe to do so, without complex and unjustified restrictions which would make it unviable to open.
“We are grateful for the financial support the government has given the sector so far and this has really helped to protect jobs and stave off pub closures, but we urgently need confirmation on additional support given the long-term restrictions that have been placed on our sector.”
Hospitality, along with the leisure and creative industry workers, still represent some of the largest beneficiaries from the Government’s wage subsidy scheme as forced closures saw sales halt.
In the second quarter of 2020, which incorporated the first full Covid-19 lockdown, pub beer sales dropped 96 per cent.
Even the much-hyped Eat Out to Help Out scheme, where the UK taxpayer subsidised many millions of meals at pubs and bars across the country, still couldn’t stop a 27 per cent decline in pub sales in the third quarter of 2020.
Kevin Georgel, the boss of St Austell Brewery also pushed the Government to name a date that pubs can re-open to the public.
“We also need immediate and long-term financial support, including an extension to the VAT cut and business rates holiday.
“Finally, we must be able to reopen alongside other non-essential retail and without trading restrictions, that made it impossible for pubs to trade viably when the tier system was in place – including the 10pm curfew and rules involving mixed households and substantial meals.”