BBPA responds to speculation that service outdoors will be permitted from April, urges Government to fully re-open pubs – inside and outside – with non-essential retail The British Beer & Pub Association, the leading trade association representing brewers and pubs, has today revealed that it believes 29,000 pubs – 60% of all pubs in the UK – will still remain closed if outdoor service is permitted at pubs from April. The trade association says this is because the majority of pubs in the UK do not have a big enough garden or outdoor space to re-open and serve customers without opening indoors too. The figures come as speculation and reporting suggests that outdoor service could be permitted in hospitality venues from April. The BBPA says that as this is unfeasible for the majority of pubs and that pubs should be allowed to re-open fully, outside and inside, when non-essential retail also opens. It says around 75% of UK pubs have a beer garden or outdoor space, but that only 40% of pubs are likely to have a beer garden or outdoor space big enough. Even then, if many with big enough outdoor spaces did open, they could still struggle to break even as they would still have vastly reduced capacity and significant practical challenges such as the April weather to deal with. It would mean that if pubs did open outdoors only in April, just 17% of UK pub capacity (both indoor and outdoor) would be opened. This would result in a loss of turnover to the sector of £1.5 billion when compared to trading in normal times. Because of this, the Government would need to continue grant support to all those pubs unable to open at all or who can partially open, but with vastly reduced trade. Emma McClarkin, Chief Executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said: “Let us be clear, outdoor service at pubs is not the same as properly opening pubs both inside and outside and is not commercially viable. “By our numbers, 29,000 pubs would still be forced to stay shut in April because they simply do not have the beer garden or outdoor space to do it. “If pubs do open outdoors only in April – we believe just 17% of UK pub capacity will actually open. This would result in a loss of turnover to the sector of £1.5 billion when compared to trading in normal times. That is far from reopening and recovering. “Even if some pubs did try and open outdoors only in April, all it would take is some heavy rain and they would find it has all been for nothing. “For many pubs, gardens are at the back and the only way to access them is through the inside. And of course, toilet facilities would still need to be provided. “We question the Government’s thinking behind this and suggest they consult with us as a sector on it. “We urge the Government to open our pubs inside – and outside – when non-essential retail also opens. By then, the vaccine will have been rolled out to millions more, and pubs can open whilst continuing to follow exemplary hygiene measures, world leading standards in guidance and social distancing. “Until then, the Government must do all it can to support our sector until it opens to trade properly in the upcoming Budget.”
BBPA responds to ONS 2020 GDP figures The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA), the leading trade association representing brewers and pubs, has today responded to new ONS GDP figures published for 2020, which show the UK economy contracted by 9.9%. According to the ONS, Food and Beverage services – which includes pubs – dropped by 48.0%. Alcohol drink manufacturing, which includes breweries, fell by 33.9%. The figures announced by the ONS follow 2020 sales data published by the BBPA earlier this week, which showed beer sales in pubs dropped by 56% in 2020 – a fall of £7.8 billion. The trade association says the ONS figures heighten the need for a clear reopening date for pubs from the Prime Minister and stimulus support from the Chancellor in his upcoming Budget, as outlined in their roadmap to recovery published earlier this week to help kick-start the sector again as soon as it can reopen. A British Beer & Pub Association spokesperson said: “These latest GDP figures are yet another indicator of the devastation our pubs and breweries across the UK have faced through Coronavirus, lockdowns and severe restrictions. “After nearly a year of being forced to close, or open but under severe restrictions, the numbers will come as no surprise to publicans across the country for whom the real, material impact of these numbers are being felt. “Things cannot continue as they are. Local pubs and breweries have been burning through cash and building up debt for months, communities across the UK are fast running out of hope that their local is going to survive. Thousands of pubs and hundreds of thousands of jobs continue to hang in the balance whilst we wait for clarity on exactly when and how pubs reopen. “If measures aren’t announced on 22nd February in the Government’s recovery roadmap providing the clarity our sector needs on when it can reopen, as well as support it needs to survive until then, we fear things could get even worse. Even when pubs do reopen, they will need a stimulus package of support to kick-start them again. “All eyes from the sector will also be turning to the Chancellor ahead of his Budget in March. He must do the right thing and combat the worrying trend of these numbers by delivering the financial support package our sector needs. That means a beer duty cut for brewers and pubs, an extension of the Business Rates holiday and an extension to the VAT cut for hospitality. “Now more than ever people need hope of social reconnection in the near future. Reopening pubs, as the heart of the community, will allow families and friends to reconnect with each other in a welcoming, safe and regulated place - something we have all missed.”
BBPA urges Government to give reopening date for pubs in newly published roadmap for sector recovery The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) and sector business leaders have today urged the Government to give a clear timeline and date for when pubs can reopen. The call comes as it was revealed today that trading restrictions and lockdowns caused sales of beer to plummet by 56% in 2020 - down by £7.8 billion. Given the severity of the impact that trading restrictions and lockdowns have had on the sector, the BBPA and business leaders of the beer and pub industry have published a recovery roadmap to reopen pubs fully after the current lockdown. The roadmap states that post vaccination of the most vulnerable, pubs must reopen when non-essential retail and other parts of the hospitality sector reopen. It also says that mandatory trading restrictions – such as alcoholic drinks served only with a substantial meal, no mixed households and the 10pm curfew – must be removed when pubs reopen in a timely way. Upon the re-opening of the sector, the BBPA also says the Government will need to continue to provide financial support in the form of a stimulus package to ensure businesses do not fail due to unsustainable debt built up during the lockdowns. It says an extension to the VAT cut and business rates holiday will be essential, as well as a significant beer duty cut, to help pubs trade profitably once more and start to recover from 2020. Without such a plan to reopen, trade viably and give further economic support to stimulate recovery, the BBPA says thousands of local pubs will fail due to their unsustainable debt and cash burn levels, resulting in local jobs and local pubs that are vital to communities throughout the UK being lost for good. In Q2 2020 alone, which incorporated the first full COVID-19 lockdown, pub beer sales dropped by 96%. In Q4 2020, when severe time trading and tier restrictions were placed on pubs, as well as a second full lockdown, pub beer sales dropped by 77% in comparison to last year. Despite being able to open under less restrictions in Q3 2020, a temporary VAT cut on food and soft drinks and the Eat Out to Help Out scheme, pub beer sales were still down 27% for the quarter. Philip Whitehead, Chairman of the British Beer & Pub Association, said: “This is not sustainable for our sector. We cannot continue to hold out under these circumstances. We urge the Government to provide clarity to our sector on when it can expect to fully reopen. “As a sector we have invested hundreds of millions in ensuring that we provide places for people to safely socialise in. When pubs reopened in July we did so safely and successfully to world leading standards. “When pubs can reopen, the restrictions they face – ranging from the substantial meal rule to the 10pm curfew – must be removed. They simply destroy their ability to operate as viable businesses. “After nearly a whole year under forced closure, or open but under severe restrictions, pub trade has been decimated and sales of beer in pubs have plummeted by 56%. Furthermore, due to their revenue falling off a cliff in 2020, pubs are holding debt and have little to no cash left. We need the Government to continue to provide financial support for Pubs when they reopen to bridge the gap to full recovery and commit to supporting the beer and pub sector for the long-term with Duty, VAT and Business Rates Reform. “Pubs need the VAT cut and business rates holiday for hospitality to be extended immediately, as well as a significant beer duty cut. These will provide vital support for pubs and stimulate demand and signal that Britain and its pubs are safe and back open for business.” Nick Mackenzie, CEO at Greene King, 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. “Pubs are the heartbeat of their communities and can play a really important role as we emerge from this pandemic, creating significant numbers of jobs and reconnecting people to help tackle social isolation that has affected so many people over the last year. But without publicans having clarity on reopening and additional support, there is a real risk of more viable businesses closing their doors in the weeks and months ahead.” Kevin Georgel, Chief Executive, St Austell Brewery said: “Since March, we’ve worked tirelessly and collaboratively to support the battle against Covid-19. We’ve closed our pubs, invested millions in reopening safely and played a responsible role in balancing the public health risk and the economic impact. Despite these efforts, hospitality continues to suffer more than any other industry. “As one of the West Country’s biggest employers, we urge the Government to provide us with a definitive reopening date to enable us to plan for reopening safely. 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. “The Great British pub is part of our social fabric. It’s far more than just a huge economic contributor. The avoidable loss of these wonderful, historic, community assets will be felt by generations to come, if the Government don’t act now and provide clarity and further support.” Mark Davies, CEO of Hawthorn, the Community Pub Company with over 700 pubs said: “As the owner of so many Community Pubs around the UK I cannot empathise enough how important it is that the Government recognises the role that pubs play in so many communities around the UK and that pubs are part of the fabric of our society. It is therefore crucial that immediate financial support is secured for the pub sector with Business rates and Vat an urgent priority and we need a fair and viable roadmap to reopening in a safe and socially responsible way as we did on the 4th July last year when we came out of the first National lockdown. A failure to do this will inevitably lead to business failure, loss of jobs and a destruction of community value in so many locations around the UK.” William Lees-Jones, Managing Director of JW Lees, said: “We know that we can re-open safely with all the mitigation that we have put in place. We estimate that the current level of government grants and furlough support have reduced our losses by 50% but, like many breweries, 99% of all JW Lees beer is sold in pubs and more than half through our own 150 pubs in the North West. We can only trade if pubs are open and pubs in our heartland in Greater Manchester have now been closed for 14 weeks since 5th November on top of the 15 weeks from 20th March. This is clearly not sustainable, and we need to learn how to live with the virus as we re-open the country.”
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