Paul Waterson said the industry in England was “sleep walking” into a similar situation and needed to prepare for the impact of a possible extension of the changes.
He pointed to the most recent survey by the SLTA which showed that 55% of all outlets surveyed showing a decline in like for like sales in 2015 vs 2014.
He pointed out that it was not just wet-led venues that were suffering, saying the survey revealed 38% of food-led outlets had also recorded a decline. He said the biggest impact was in countryside and tourist locations, where 39% of retailers were reporting a decline of over 10% year on year.
He told M&C: “It’s been a catastrophe for the sector. There are town centre pubs that have got away relatively unscathed but for most operators this has had extremely hard.
“We have been very clear that we are not against the changes themselves but the fact the penalties have not been adjusted. That has been a real barrier to people driving from the pub even if they are confident they’re under the limit. You might think people will just come out to drink soft drinks with a meal but that’s not what we’re seeing. People are staying away.
“England is sleep walking into this. It will absolutely decimate the industry if it is introduced in the same way it has been in Scotland.”