Pubs gear up for outdoor trading

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

Getting ready: many pubs are preparing to reopen for external service (image: Getty/mrdoomits)
Getting ready: many pubs are preparing to reopen for external service (image: Getty/mrdoomits)

Related tags Government Legislation British beer & pub association Jdw Greene king Marston's pub company Fullers

The on-trade is preparing for outside service when it is permitted next week (Monday 12 April).

Research from the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) in February estimated 60% of pubs will remain closed while outdoor trading only is allowed.

Greene King boss Nick Mackenzie said he was disappointed his sites would not be able to reopen alongside non-essential retail, gyms and hairdressers, in the second stage of the unlocking plan.

“Opening pub gardens in April simply isn’t viable so many pubs will have to remain closed and, with a phased reopening from May," he said.

Many pub companies and groups, including Greene King have reported a proportion of their estate will be opening for outdoor trading this month.

The Suffolk-based operator and brewer stated last month (March), it was set to reopen 442 of its managed pubs outdoors in England from Monday 12 April.

This represents about a third of the pub company’s managed pub estate with some venues having reduced opening hours and menus.

Reduced menus

The 875 sites comprising Greene King's leased and tenanted arm (Pub Partners) will decide whether to reopen or not on an individual basis according to the brewer and pub operator. 

Pub giant JD Wetherspoon (JDW) will be reopening outdoor areas in almost half (45%) of its estate​, it announced at the beginning of last month (March).

Beer gardens, roof top gardens and patios at 394 of its sites in England will be open from 9am until 9pm Sunday to Thursday and 9am to 10pm on Friday and Saturday.

Similar to Greene King, food offers will be reduced and some venues have restrictions on closing times so will be shut earlier.

Customers will be able to order and pay for their drinks and meals through the JDW app but staff will also be able to take orders and payments at the table for guests who do not have the app.

A booking system will not be in place and customers will be able to access the outside area and use the toilet.

The pubs will also have Test and Trace in place alongside hand sanitisers available throughout the sites.

Future plans

Marston’s is planning to reopen just under three quarters (about 70%) of its managed and franchised estate​ from Monday.

If the Government’s roadmap goes as planned, Marston’s will then reopen the rest of its managed estate in England on or around Monday 17 May with restricted inside trading.

It is assuming a return to normal trading conditions from Monday 21 June, when the Government has said it plans to remove most restrictions.

Fuller’s outlined its plans for a phased approach to reopening​ with 82 venues initially trading before the rest of its managed pubs and hotels opening their doors by Monday 17 May.

About 70% of the company’s tenanted inns are expected to reopen on Monday 12 April. If the Government sticks to its roadmap, Fuller’s expects to return to normal trading conditions and become cashflow positive from mid-May.

Furthermore, cocktail bar and restaurant operator The Alchemist is set to reopen seven of its 17 sites at the next step.

Chief executive Simon Potts told The Morning Advertiser​’s sister title MCA ​the business is applying the same logic it always does for outdoor guests, taking no bookings but will then take bookings for inside service when the 10 remaining sites will reopen.

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