SLTA: Nine out of 10 pubs will not survive without help

By Gary Lloyd

- Last updated on GMT

Warning: Colin Wilkinson of the SLTA says it won't be economically viable for many sites to stay open
Warning: Colin Wilkinson of the SLTA says it won't be economically viable for many sites to stay open

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Nine out of 10 pubs and bars will not survive winter without Government support, according to the Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA).

A new survey from the trade body, which represents more than 10% of Scotland’s on-trade premises, contains key insights into the significant impacts of a tide of unprecedented challenges.

SLTA managing director Colin Wilkinson said: “Our snapshot survey covers all types of licensed premises and is an indicator of the key issues facing the wide range of small to large businesses, which trade within the wider hospitality sector.

“It is based upon quantitative research from more than 600 outlets covering the length and breadth of the country and is supported by major food and drink chains and independent pubs, bars and hotels in Scotland’s hospitality sector.”

Covid debt 

He continued: “Many of our respondents are still carrying significant Covid debt and are dealing with the challenges of Brexit, but we are now facing even bigger hurdles with rising costs, staff shortages and enormous increases to energy costs – with one in four anticipating an increase in energy costs of over 500%, despite the chancellor’s announcement on capping wholesale energy prices.”

He warned it won’t be economically viable to remain open for many outlets and one in 10 of survey respondents plan to close during the winter months with almost one in two expecting to reduce opening hours.

He added: “Our pubs and bars have worked very hard post-Covid and Brexit to showcase Scotland’s hospitality industry but with a tsunami of rising costs and low consumer confidence we urgently call on local and national governments to help us through the winter.”

5% not reopened post-Covid

Wilkinson continued: “We must protect the jobs that outlets provide directly and the associated jobs in the wholesaling, brewing/distilling and food-producing sectors.”

Summarising the key challenges faced by survey respondents: 40% of outlets are employing significantly fewer staff while recruitment post-Brexit remains an issue; 5% of outlets have not reopened post-Covid while 50% are trading at significantly lower levels than pre-Covid; and one in two of hospitality outlets are carrying significant Covid-related debt.

Other issues cited included rising costs – particularly energy, which business owners have identified as the biggest threat to their businesses with one in four venues facing an increase in energy cost of over 500%; 45% of outlets expect to reduce their opening hours, which will impact on tourism and employment; and 87% of outlets requesting Government support to survive the winter.

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