Pub chain Marston’s has put 2,150 jobs at risk of redundancy following the introduction of new three-tier coronavirus restrictions.
The government announced the new local lockdown system earlier this week, with most pubs in areas placed in the highest tier of restrictions expected to close.
Marston’s said the introduction of the new rules is “hugely disappointing in view of a lack of clear evidence tying pubs to the recent increase in infection levels”.
The company said incidences of infection in its pubs had been very low, but that the new rules had undermined consumer confidence and created uncertainty.
It added: “These decisions are difficult but are necessary due to the restrictions placed upon our business at this time.”
The company said this morning that the workers affected were currently on furlough.
Marston’s also announced that group sales for the year were £821m, 30 per cent below last year, reflecting the 15 weeks of enforced closure during the UK-wide lockdown.
Marston’s Beer Company sales fell 22 per cent to £306m. However, sales in shops increased 23 per cent, driven by “exceptional demand” during lockdown.
Pub sales excluding the lockdown period were 11 per cent below last year.
The firm has opened 99 per cent of its pubs since restrictions were lifted on 4 July, with like-for-like sales reaching 90 per cent of last year’s levels since reopening.
Chief executive Ralph Findlay said: “There is much uncertainty ahead, the majority of which is outside of our control, however we will continue to focus on the safety of our teams and guests.
“Looking beyond the immediate challenges, we look forward to our future as a focused pub operator, returning to growth when trading conditions allow and realising the opportunities which are open to us over the medium to longer term.”