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‘Closing a venue is not the same as closing a shop’

By Emily Hawkins contact

- Last updated on GMT

Worrying time: Michelle Carr (pictured with her daughter Lauren) has described her concerns as a function-based business operator
Worrying time: Michelle Carr (pictured with her daughter Lauren) has described her concerns as a function-based business operator

Related tags: Coronavirus

A sole trade operator has shared her fears about the unique position venues that make most of their income from function rooms have been left in.

The Park View, in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, makes most of its money in the summer season from weddings and other large gatherings, which look likely to be one of the last things to be reinstated post-lockdown. 

Michelle Carr said she feels there needs to be specific support measures for sole traders and for venues relying on big events like hers.

She said: “It’s a worrying time and I can't see an end to it. I put my heart and soul into this business seven years ago and invested a lot of money.”

Government support should be calculated on another measure such as the rent a premises has to pay instead, as there is no one-size-fits-all approach to small businesses, the operator believes.

Business differences

She said: “Closing for us is not like locking a shop up and leaving it. Freezers have to still stay on and things like that.

“The Government needs to differentiate [because] there is a difference between a function venue and a clothes shop. 

“There is a massive difference, they might earn the same in the long run but it’s the turnover and the outgoings. I don’t think there’s a lot of shops that would be paying almost £2,000 [rent] a month.”

The site is eligible for the £10,000 grant under the Government’s hospitality support scheme, however, it has mostly gone towards paying back an overdraft and rent payments.

Mounting debts

The Park View is leased from a private landlord, who has told the licensee that her rent for April can be deferred for a month.

Carr said: “The debts are still mounting but there’s no income coming in. In the pub trade, it’s all about the cash flow, you order your stock for a function that happens that weekend then you pay for your stock out of the money that you take in. There’s no income coming in but I have still got some outgoings to pay. 

“I can’t even plan for weddings in July, for example, because we don’t know if they’re going to go ahead. If someone is getting married in a church, four weeks before they have to go and put their banns (announcement of intention to marry) in, but if a church is shut they can’t do that.”

Most of the wedding functions Carr had booked in for this summer have been rescheduled for next year, meaning she will suffer a huge loss of income even if pubs are allowed to reopen in the next couple of months.

She said: “I feel heartbroken for the brides and grooms, they have had things planned for months and years and now they can’t go ahead. 

“The other thing is funerals. There were 400 people supposed to be [at our venue] for a local resident. I just feel sorry for anybody who has lost loved ones and you can’t even go to the funeral.”

Related topics: Events & Occasions

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