Sector battles winter challenge ‘like no other’

By Amelie Maurice-Jones

- Last updated on GMT

Cry for support: Hospitality hit hard over winter (Getty/ georgeclerk)
Cry for support: Hospitality hit hard over winter (Getty/ georgeclerk)

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A third of UKHospitality (UKH) members were worried their business was at risk, as a tsunami of financial pressures mount to create a “winter challenge like no other”.

UKH chief executive Kate Nicholls said hospitality businesses were facing an ever-growing list of challenges including soaring energy costs, continued staffing challenges, dampening consumer confidence and the continued impact of rail strikes.  

Nicholls continued: “Businesses are doing all they can to stay afloat and for some, that means taking hard decisions to reduce trading hours, close more often, or even completely shut for the winter. This isn’t good for business or consumers, but many have no choice.” 

The new year has already seen businesses shut up shop due to mounting cost pressures. Manchester Brewing Company announced it would cease trading yesterday. 

Debts incurred during lockdown, the effect of the cost-of-living crisis on trade plus spiralling costs meant the business could no longer function. 

Shutting up shop

Hampshire-based pub the Roebuck Inn also closed​ after suffering a significant drop in trade. 

The pub in Winchester said a plummet in trade and increase in running costs due to the cost-of-living crisis and Covid repercussions had forced the pub to cease trading.   

Despite this, Nicholls said the Government's energy support scheme had been a “lifeline” for many hospitality businesses whose bills would have gone up more than threefold had it not been in place.  

However, she added it was vital this support was extended, with particular consideration for vulnerable sectors like hospitality. 

She believed the Government also needed to tackle long-term, structural issues like business rates reform, which it committed to doing in its manifesto. 

Train strikes

Strike action by rail unions Aslef and RMT, which will continue throughout early January, has already hit the sector hard.​ 

NTIA chief executive Michael Kill said: “Feedback from members across the UK has suggested that strike action has had a deeper impact than expected with businesses seeing over 50% downturn in trade on the busiest weekend of the year. 

“With an estimated £2bn in lost revenue, and costs due to increase in the new year, the current trading environment is untenable for businesses.” 

Kill agreed with Nicholls that the Government should extend the energy relief scheme and consider further support for hospitality to avoid a huge swathe of businesses going into insolvency this month. 

Related topics Rebuilding the Pub Sector

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