M&B furloughs more than 45,000 staff members

By Stuart Stone

- Last updated on GMT

Cost-cutting measures: M&B believes its strategy will be ‘sufficient to fund obligations well into the second half of the year’
Cost-cutting measures: M&B believes its strategy will be ‘sufficient to fund obligations well into the second half of the year’

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The operator behind high street stalwarts O’Neill’s and All Bar One has furloughed 99% of its workforce in a bid to weather the ongoing Covid-19 crisis.

In a statement released on 14 April, the Birmingham-based employer of more than 46,000 people – according to its Making Moments Matters​ report 2019​ – announced that 99% of its workforce had been furloughed.

What’s more, the operator of 1,700 venues under brands such as Harvester, Toby Carvery, and Miller & Carter, revealed that it has slashed basic pay for all employees, including its board, by between 60% and 80% depending on seniority in a bid to cut operating costs. 

The pubco’s statement added that all discretionary capital expenditure projects have also been suspended.

Furthermore, the FTSE 250 pub company’s statement revealed the forced closure of its pubs during the coronavirus lockdown on 20 March could put it in breach of lending agreements with its banks – though it clarified that an agreement had been reached with lenders.

“It is possible that the forced closure of our sites, as required by the Government, could amount to a technical breach of our secured financing arrangements but, as a first step, we are announcing today that a temporary waiver until 15 May has now been granted to avoid this pending further discussions,” the pubco warned.

“Great uncertainty remains not only as to the extent of the current shutdown but also the profile of any reopening and recovery period back to normality. 

“In light of this, the group is in close contact with stakeholders with whom it has strong relationships and who are supportive of the long-term fundamentals of the business.

“The group has material cash resources that we believe should be sufficient to fund obligations well into the second half of the year.”

As reported by The Morning Advertiser ​(MA​) in November last year, M&B had harboured hopes of expanding into the Scottish pub market in 2020​ off the back of acquiring seven new sites and carrying out 239 conversions and remodels in the recently ended financial year.

What’s more, M&B enjoyed a 5.6% increase in like-for-like sales value over 2019’s three-week festive period.

The operator’s announcement follows news that Revolution Bars Group – which operates 74 bars nationwide under its Revolution and Revolución de Cuba brands – has furloughed almost 3,000 staff, halved directors’ salaries and increased its overdraft by £9m​.

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