Energy suppliers pushing firms to 'point of no return'

By Rebecca Weller

- Last updated on GMT

Demoralising: Top 50 Cocktail Bars forced to close due to energy bills (Credit: Getty/	Rost-9D)
Demoralising: Top 50 Cocktail Bars forced to close due to energy bills (Credit: Getty/ Rost-9D)

Related tags Top 50 Cocktail Bars Legislation Government Finance

A Top 50 Cocktail Bars site was left with no choice but to close after the “demoralising” actions of its energy supplier.

Owner of the Pineapple Club, in Birmingham, Sam Boulton, explained the bar had been having issues with its energy supplier for some time before the closure.

Boulton claimed the site had been incorrectly billed and overcharged for around eight months prior to the energy crisis due to problems with the sites metre but after repeated unsuccessful attempts to contact the energy supplier, he stopped paying on the account.

The operator continued he was left with no choice but to make the “heart-breaking” decision to close Pineapple Club’s doors for good after being sent a demand for some £50,000 on top of the supplier refusing a payment plan.

Boulton said: “I can't speak for everyone in this position, but when you start a business, energy bills are a small part of your ongoing costs in comparison to other areas, so it's not something you expect to exponentially grow and expand and that has happened this year.

“They were trying to charge a small bar £1,000 a week in energy just for electric, and we're only open four days a week; the bills weren't equating to what it should have been.

Point of no return 

“Whilst the business was successful in other regards and doing well, the energy company was unwilling to work with us to make sure this gets resolved, it's pushed us into the point of no return.”

This comes as the bar, which was number 14 on the Top 50 Cocktail Bars list, announced its closure on social media ​earlier this month.

Boulton continued: “I can't think of a pain other than losing somebody that equates to [this].

“I've spent five years of my life building this business and to be told by a multibillion-pound company that they won't even entertain the idea of putting together a sensible plan with me, was not only demoralising, but it made me feel like a failure and like I was being taken advantage of.”

Moreover, the operator added closures don’t just impact venue owners and staff, but local businesses and tourism.

He said: “We were a local business and supported local as much as possible; everything we physically could buy local, we did, so there's going to be a knock-on effect to those people as well as to the wider city.

Legislative change 

“The UK Top 50 list this year has grown with more Birmingham city centre venues and we were alongside [those], championing tourism and reasons to come to the city. Things like this are going to be affected.

“The effects may not be immediately noticeable, but there will be a big difference in tourism in cities because independent businesses are all struggling, it's much more than just us, and that makes the city less appealing.”

Additionally, Boulton called on the Government to further support the sector and change legislation to better reflect the needs of customers rather than energy suppliers.

He said: “For some reason, [the sector is] not seeing the Government step in and put in legislation to prevent things like this happening.

“The legislation is written in the way that protects energy companies when these businesses are recording billions in profits at the moment, there should be more in place to protect people like us, we need legislative change for the long term, not just an immediate grant.”

Related topics Spirits & Cocktails

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