Despite increasing demand from operators for clarity, guidance and financial respite during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the big six pub companies have remained silent on how they could help licensees.
However, it is hoped that Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak will provide credence when later today he announces what is expected to be further coronavirus financial support for businesses in addition to the £1.2bn outlined in the Budget last week.
Nothing short of shocking
Speaking to The Morning Advertiser, British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) chief executive Emma McClarkin said the past 24 hours had been nothing short of shocking for the beer and pub industry.
“Thousands of jobs will be lost by the end of the week if nothing is announced by the Government,” she said, adding that a series of financial support packages must be delivered if the trade is to survive the pandemic.
“The social and economic value of the sector to this country is under existential threat and if the Government does nothing, pubs will close and some will close for good.”
She added that all the BBPA’s members had so far been dealing with the outbreak as it developed and when asked why the pubcos had remained silent on their plans, she said: “They are going to be looking at how they can deal with it.
“The reality is that we need help from the Government and that’s just to survive and have a business. The reality is there’s no support and no indication of any finance.”
Looking at support
McClarkin added: “Pub companies are looking at what support they can give [tenants] and that could include rent holidays, but they don’t know for how long that could last and that’s why we’re looking to Government; we have to help the larger companies help the smaller businesses within them survive.”
Help from the Government would need to include immediate cost reductions for the sector, as well as help to ease cash flow problems.
“Some pubs have only two weeks of cash flow and that’s it,” she added. “They are looking at making job cuts, this is what pubs are having to do. All of our members have been muddling along and thinking how long they can survive.”