Pender said: “Pubs are a fantastic sector that employs people and creates jobs and they deserve more Government support.”
Focusing on the well-documented issue of business rates that have hit some operators hard, he told The Morning Advertiser (MA): “I’d like to see a total re-evaluation of the business rates system. We need a tax system that taxes online businesses and big economy businesses, like Amazon, in the same way as bricks and mortar companies. We need a total reclassification of business rates with people from RICS, BBPA and UKHospitalty involved, it needs to be discussed by an open committee.”
He said the closures he has seen recently in pubs and casual dining are “unprecedented”, adding “as an operator, I have never been offered so many vacant businesses”.
Pender said: “Just a year ago, chains like Byron were doing really well, now they and other chains like Prezzo and Jamie Oliver are closing sites."
“That said, we do have to stay positive despite the closures as there are a lot of people doing really well. We don’t want to be too maudlin or endanger those businesses.”
Responding to Pender’s comments at the event, Keith Knowles OBE, chief executive and founder of Beds & Bars, told MA: “We’ve seen £650,000 was ripped out of my businesses bottom line by additional Government rates, mainly business rates. One of my sites in Newquay has been re-evaluated up by 135%. Another of my sites in London has seen its rates valuation increase by 404%.
“As a result, only a third of my managers [in the UK] got their bonus. In Europe, all my managers got their bonuses. The rates re-evaluations are killing businesses.”
Responding to tweets about Pender’s on-stage statement, Kate Nicholls chief executive of UKHospitality tweeted: "Absolutely right – that failure prevents investment in people, jobs, growth and communities."