As reported by The Morning Advertiser, West Country brewer and pub operator St Austell reopened its entire managed estate on 4 July, with more than 70% of its 147 tenanted pubs also resuming trade at the earliest possible opportunity.
However, off the back of a “steady start” to post-lockdown business, chief executive Kevin Georgel has urged Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak to extend support for the hospitality sector in his July Statement.
“It’s very encouraging to have received so much positive feedback over the weekend, from those who enjoyed their pub experience and felt reassured by the new measures we’ve put in place,” a statement from Georgel explained. “We’re happy we’ve been able to provide peace of mind and a safe, comfortable environment for our loyal customers.
“We’re incredibly proud of our pub teams and tenants across the West Country, who worked so hard behind the scenes last week to get ready to welcome people back. We’d also like to thank all of our guests for supporting us, looking out for one another and respecting the guidelines.
“However, while it’s great to be up and running again - and things got off to a steady start – the reality is we still face a long road ahead to recovery.
"Our trading across the weekend was significantly lower than last year and is likely to remain this way, until consumer confidence fully returns. We’re therefore urging the Chancellor for extended support for hospitality – by cutting VAT, beer duty and business rates – until we can get back to a sustainable level of trading."
He added: “Pubs have been at the very heart of their communities, in good times and bad, for hundreds of years. The industry needs longer-term support, to ensure pubs are protected for future generations.”
Georgel’s statement comes after more than 100 hospitality industry leaders penned a letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson backing a support and investment package to rejuvenate the pub and restaurant sectors in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis.
Organised by trade body UKHospitality – and signed by the likes of Greene King, JD Wetherspoon, Marstons, Punch Pubs and The Deltic Group – the letter asks the Government to adopt a series of measures including the deferral of all tax liabilities for July, a VAT cut for tourism services and extending the business rates holiday until March 2022.