We still can’t make a profit, say pub chiefs: A full reopening on June 21st is crucial for recovery
Two of Britain’s biggest pub groups said indoor reopening of venues was met with ‘euphoria’ – but the industry will not be profitable until all restrictions are lifted.
Customers were welcomed back inside on Monday having been allowed to drink outside since April 12.
But they must sit socially distanced at tables, meaning capacity is still down significantly, and pubs have also weathered extra costs for staff, PPE and outdoor furniture.
Cheers: Customers were welcomed back inside pubs on Monday having only been allowed to drink outside since April 12
Industry leaders said that many pubs, especially smaller, independent venues, will struggle to make a profit until they reopen fully. This could happen on June 21, but there are fears this date will be pushed back.
Phil Urban, the chief executive of Mitchell & Butlers, which owns the Harvester, All Bar One and Toby Carvery brands, said: ‘We expected a bit of pent-up demand and euphoria to meet family and friends indoors. We’re all focused on June 21. Until the restrictions are lifted this industry can’t be profitable.’
M&B, the UK’s largest listed group, with 1,780 outlets, fell to a £200million loss in the six months to April 10 after sales collapsed from £1billion to £219million.
It was burning through £35million of cash per month during the lockdown, forcing it to raise £351million from shareholders.
At 1,500-pub chain Marston’s, which posted a £122.4million loss in the six months to April 3, sales fell 84 per cent to £55.1million. It ‘broke even’ in April as customers braved the cold weather to enjoy a pint outside.
Chief executive Ralph Findlay said: ‘It feels like we’re finally making steps towards normality. Customers are feeling good about getting back out, but when things settle not all businesses will be able to trade profitably.’
The June 21 date, when restrictions were due to be lifted completely, is in doubt by a surge in cases of the more transmissible Indian coronavirus variant.
Bosses are looking ahead to football’s European Championship, which will give pubs a major boost when it starts on June 11.
- Young’s is looking to sell off its tenanted pubs, covering around 50 sites. The pub group said that it had appointed Savills to explore a sale, and that it was ‘in discussions’ regarding a potential deal.