‘Crucial’ that Gov bases decisions on science, not media speculation, says Hawthorn boss

By Stuart Stone contact

- Last updated on GMT

Freedom day: 'It is crucial the Government continues with an evidence-based approach, and bases its decision-making in science, not on media speculation,' Mark Davies said
Freedom day: 'It is crucial the Government continues with an evidence-based approach, and bases its decision-making in science, not on media speculation,' Mark Davies said

Related tags: Hawthorn leisure, Pubco + head office, Finance, Tenanted + leased

Giving an update on the pub company’s performance, Hawthorn CEO Mark Davies has stressed the importance of an “evidence-based approach” to the lifting of pandemic restrictions on Monday 21 June.

Dissecting the pub company’s performance during the last financial year, as part of parent company NewRiver’s full year results for the year ending 31 March 2021, the operator of close to 700 leased, tenanted and operator managed community pubs revealed that it had invested £7m in more than 200 pub projects during the Covid-19 pandemic.

On top of this, Hawthorn – which owns more than 550 tenanted and leased pubs – revealed that it had distributed more than £8m of support for partners and operators since March 2020, ongoing until August 2021 when the firm will return to charging full rent​.  

Hawthorn also revealed that more than £500,000 has been invested across at least 110 schemes under its Pub Partner Investment Fund, in which the operator matched pub partner spend up to £10,000 to add lighting, heating and covers and support Covid compliance in pubs. 

These updates come after Hawthorn revealed that in the six months to 30 September​ pub net property income was £3.5m compared to £13.6m in the same period in 2019 as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

What’s more, the group also saw a £400,000 decline in like-for-like income excluding the impact of enforced Covid closures during the same period, which Hawthorn attributes to dented consumer confidence after the lifting of the first national lockdown on 4 July.

‘Stronger than ever’ 

Reflecting on pub performance since the financial year end, Hawthorn revealed that 91% of its sites had reopened by 17 May and that occupancy levels stood at 96.7%. 

Additionally, since 12 April, like-for-like volumes across Hawthorn’s leased and tenanted estate stood at 98% versus to the same period in 2019, with sales in operator managed estate sites hitting 83%.

“I’m immensely proud of the tireless work that our team have put in to ensure that our pub partners and operators have been able to navigate this difficult year and reopen safely and successfully,” Hawthorn CEO Mark Davies said.

“Our people are our most important asset, and relationships with our partners are stronger than ever thanks to the unprecedented levels of support – both financial and personal – that we have provided, which will benefit the business for years to come, and help us achieve our objective of being the leading national community pub operator.” 

‘Evidence-based approach’ 

Davies also reflected that the emergence from pandemic restrictions, and developments such as the recent purchase of 14 pubs from Everards, heralded a “very exciting and important time” for Hawthorn

“We were delighted with the recent acquisition of fourteen community pubs from Everards and the appointment of Colin Rutherford as our new chairman,” he explained.  

“We look forward to continuing to grow Hawthorn, and with our commitment to building the very best community pub company, with industry-leading support and a people-first approach, we are confident that there is a great future ahead for Hawthorn.”

However, he stressed that, at an industry level, progressing to step four in the Government roadmap as set out by the Prime Minister is “really important” so that community pubs can operate at normal capacity and return to pre-Covid profitability. 

“It is crucial therefore that the Government continues with an evidence-based approach, and bases its decision-making in science, not on media speculation, to facilitate 21 June becoming ‘freedom day’ for community pubs across the UK.”

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