Reopenings fail to buoy hospitality chains
BRITAIN’S biggest pub and restaurant chains suffered a 50pc slump in sales in July as hospitality businesses reopened for the first time after lockdown.
The stark figures came as nightclub bosses wrote to culture minister Oliver Dowden demanding clarity over when they will be allowed to reopen venues, warning that continued uncertainty could risk the loss of thousands of jobs.
London firms were hit worst in their first month of reopening, industry data revealed, with sales down 58.3pc on a year earlier. Sales fell 48.5pc outside the M25.
According to the Coffer Peach Business Tracker – which collated sales from 49 firms including Pizza Express and Wagamama – bar groups suffered the largest sales decrease among their cohort, with sales down 63.3pc in July compared to a year earlier. Pub sales were down 44.7pc and restaurants recorded a 59.8pc drop.
Drink sales performed slightly better than food in pubs, with drops of 41pc and 48pc respectively.
Mark Sheehan, managing director of adviser Coffer Corporate Leisure, which produces the tracker alongside consultancy CGA and accountant RSM, said: “Despite the fanfare over the July 4 reopening date for hospitality, in reality trade is recovering slowly.
“The restaurant sector, already under severe pressure pre-Covid has been decimated by the lockdown.
“The pub sector has proven to be more resilient as expected and is now bouncing back strongly in many areas.”
Mr Sheehan said the Chancellor’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme was likely to help sales recover in August, but warned that central London was still lagging behind the rest of the country. HMRC said the subsidy programme – which gives diners up to £10 off their meal from Monday to Wednesday – was used 10.5m times in its first week.
While vast swathes of the hospitality sector have opened back up, nightclub venues are among those which remain shut.
The Government is still yet to provide a reopening date for the industry.
Peter Marks, chief executive of nightclub operator The Deltic Group, said his firm has invested heavily in ensuring its venues are safe for staff and customers with controlled entry systems, staff training and improved ventilation.
He said: “The clubbing season in the UK traditionally begins to get busy in September, so we are now less than one month away from a potentially makeor-break period.
“We are ready to welcome customers back safely straight away, but the Government is keeping us closed.”