First casualty of the 10pm curfew: 200-year-old brewer Greene King ‘will close 79 pubs and restaurants and axe 800 jobs’ after Covid causes slump in trade
Hundreds of jobs and scores of pubs are to be shut by Greene King after the 10pm coronavirus curfew and lockdown decimated custom
The company – which has more than 3,000 pubs across the country – today started a consultation process with 800 employees about a redundancy process.
Bosses at the firm, which has nearly 1,700 managed pubs and 1,000 tenanted venues, wants to redeploy affected staff wherever possible.
It wants to close 79 pubs and restaurants and are understood to believe one-third of them will be permanent.
A spokesperson said: ‘The continued tightening of the trading restrictions for pubs, which may last another six months, along with the changes to government support was always going to make it a challenge to reopen some of our pubs.
‘Therefore, we have made the difficult decision not to reopen 79 sites, including the 11 Loch Fyne restaurants we announced last week.
‘Around one-third will be closed permanently and we hope to be able to reopen the others in the future.
‘We are working hard with our teams to try and find them a role in another of our pubs wherever possible.
‘We urgently need the government to step in and provide tailored support to help the sector get through to the spring and prevent further pub closures and job losses.’
Greene King CEO Nick Mackenzie had warned the 10pm curfew would threaten pubs
Boris Johnson’s 10pm curfew has seen streets and businesses deserted in major cities
Greene King currently has 3,000 pubs across the country but says it is closing 79
The devastating news about the company – which is owned by Hong Kong business CK Asset Holdings – was first revealed by Sky News.
Greene King CEO Nick Mackenzie had warned two weeks ago the curfew would be a disaster for the pub industry.
Mr Mackenzie said: ‘Pubs are just starting to get back on their feet after lockdown and these new restrictions are a significant setback.
‘We urgently need the Government to extend the furlough scheme for hospitality venues and confirm what additional support it will provide to protect jobs and the future of pubs.
‘We made safety our priority when reopening and fewer than one per cent of our 1,700 managed pubs have been contacted by NHS Test and Trace since reopening in July, which demonstrates pubs are not disproportionately spreading cases and our measures are working.
‘Removing a key trading period and further damaging customer confidence looks set to cost us several million pounds per week, on top of already reduced customer numbers in our pubs to maintain social distancing.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson was challenged over the curfew in the commons today
‘Given these restrictions and likely timescales, we need support from the Government to avoid further job losses in the hospitality sector in addition to the 135,000 so far.’
In July, the pub group said it had invested £15million into pub safety as it prepared to open to customers once more from July 4.
The pub confirmed tables would be spaced out in line with government regulations and said customers would have to pay using a new Order and Pay app.
The business also said customers would be provided with one-time-use menus that could be disposed of in a sustainable way at the pub and cutlery would be wrapped.
It also said three days ago it was to launch a programme to raise awareness about slavery after admitting it was ‘inexcusable’ that its founder profited from the transatlantic slave trade.
The pub company said it would team up with the International Slavery Museum in Liverpool to ‘educate people about the shocking human exploitation which took place.’
The Suffolk-based business was founded in 1799 by Benjamin Greene who went on to own sugar plantations in the West Indies where he was a slave owner.
Born in 1780 in Northamptonshire, Benjamin Greene, went on to own three cane sugar plantations in the West Indies after he handed over his brewery company to his son Edward in 1836.
During the 1880s, the brewery founder, who profited from the labour of enslaved Africans, wrote columns in his own newspaper the Bury and Suffolk Herald where he defended his actions against campaigners for the abolition of slavery.
Despite his protestations, MPs finally passed the Slavery Abolition Bill in 1833, on the condition that slave-owners be given compensation for freeing their slaves.
Greene, who had at least 231 slaves, was among 47,000 people who benefited from the compensation and received the equivalent of £500,000 in today’s money.
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