The Stockport-based brewer and pub operator has already forgone £6.75m of rent charges and refunded the costs of spoilt beer during the pandemic.
In a letter to its tenanted pubs, managing director (pub division) William Robinson, said: “We are realistic that arrival of the new variant will make this winter a more challenging time that any of us had expected a month ago, with that in mind, we have made two quick decisions that will support your businesses.”
Push for Government support
He continued: “Firstly, we are delaying our annual price increase by a month, to March, despite incurring extraordinary production and raw material price hikes. Secondly, we will be reducing your rent in January by 10%.”
Alongside this, the brewery intends to join others in pushing for more permanent government support. The company has written today (Wednesday 22 December) to a number of MPs to ask them to write to the Chancellor requesting both short-term and longer-term pub-specific support.
The requests include the immediate introduction of a targeted furlough scheme for hospitality; an extension to the VAT reduction until the end of 2022; and the cancellation of business rates until April 2022 and removal the £110,000 cap.
Beer duty reduction call
While, in the longer term, Robinsons wants to see further support by increasing the percentage reduction in draught beer duty, which is due to commence in February 2023.
Robinson added: “We have supported our great pub estate thus far and will continue to support those who work with us. The financial stability of our extended family of tenanted licensees is crucial to plans for us to invest our way out of this pandemic so we will continue to do what we can but recognise that the government is going to have to step in too.”