Big Interview

Government needs to do more: Kerridge

By Ed Bedington

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Tom kerridge Chef tom kerridge Government Pub & bar Vat Utilities Michelin Finance Multi-site pub operators

“There’s a huge amount the Government could and should be doing,” according to leading chef and pub operator Tom Kerridge, with a key issue being a reduction in VAT.

He highlighted the fact the Government needed to address food inflation, freedom of movement and particularly “how on earth the energy and utility companies can be making eye-watering catastrophically high profits while everybody else is struggling”.

“We’re living in a world where corporate companies are making enormous sums of money while small businesses are struggling. There’s a huge amount the Government could be doing, but it appears to be flailing on deaf ears and it’s a poor reflection on where we sit as a country.”

But the main issue the Government could address is VAT he added: “First and foremost, the biggest thing they should be doing is listening to the rates of VAT that everybody in our sector is shouting about.

“20% is a huge amount of pressure put onto hospitality, if you think about it compared to the rest of Europe, which sits anywhere between 8 or 10 percent - a 10% reduction in VAT into our industry would make such a huge amount of difference, would relieve a massive amount of pressure.”

He said it would be a pressure valve that would mean many operators could “breathe a sigh of relief” and hopefully survive the next couple of years.

Not immune

Despite his own position of celebrity, Kerridge added his own businesses were not immune from the crisis. “The person who I am first and foremost is a chef and [my] businesses are very much under pressure, no different to anybody else. 

“They are struggling to make money if anything, actually in all honesty, what we’re trying to do is get through the next couple of years without making too big a loss and I’m sure that’s the same as pretty much every other operator. We’re looking at how to survive without making closures.”

And while there remains a huge amount of challenges ahead, he remained hopeful: “There'll be plenty of opportunities. I’m a firm believer that you have to lean into a problem and attack it, rather than sit back and let it wash over you and swallow you up.”

In fact, he’s confident enough to opening up a fourth pub: “There’s been lots of rumbling and talk about it, but we are opening a second Butcher’s Tap and Grill.

“It’s been a great success in Marlow - it’s got sport on the telly, it serves real ale, does burgers and steaks and it ticks a lot of boxes, all produce led - same products going into Coach and Hand and Flowers but done in a more accessible way.

“So we’ll be opening a second site of that and that’s in Chelsea towards the back end of this year.”

To watch the full interview with Kerridge, click the video above.

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