Coronavirus UK: Revolution bar chain boss slams Government’s treatment of bars and nightclubs – Daily Mail

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The boss of Revolution Bars today blasted the Government’s ‘scandalous’ treatment of bars and nightclubs during the pandemic, accusing it of ‘deliberately sacrificing businesses and people’s livelihoods’. 

Chief executive Rob Pitcher said state support for bars which have seen their trade decimated during the crisis is ‘totally inadequate’ and called grants of £1,000 per wet-led pub or bar ‘derisory and insulting’.

The group, which runs 74 bars in the UK, told investors it is down around £8.5million a month for the past six months from the same period last year after reporting a nearly 50 per cent fall in sales from 2019.

Since reopening bars from July 6, it said it had been weighed down by restrictions including local lockdowns, the second national shutdown, table service and the 10pm curfew.

Last month, Revolution creditors gave the green light to a restructuring plan which saw the company cut 130 jobs and permanently shut six sites in London, Bath, the West Midlands and Sunderland. The company voluntary arrangement (CVA) also secured reduced rents at seven bars.

In a statement to investors today, Mr Pitcher thundered: ‘The UK Government’s actions towards wet-led bars and late-night hospitality are nothing short of scandalous. 

‘It has little evidence to justify the severe restrictions that have been imposed and it is deliberately sacrificing businesses and people’s livelihoods.’ 

The boss of bar chain Revolution today blasted the Government's 'scandalous' treatment of bars and nightclubs during the pandemic. Pictured, a road closed sign next to a pedestrian and cycle zone outside of bar Revolution on Bedford Place in Southampton

The boss of bar chain Revolution today blasted the Government’s ‘scandalous’ treatment of bars and nightclubs during the pandemic. Pictured, a road closed sign next to a pedestrian and cycle zone outside of bar Revolution on Bedford Place in Southampton

Chief executive Rob Pitcher said state support for bars which have seen their trade decimated during the crisis is 'totally inadequate' and called £1,000 grants 'derisory and insulting'

Chief executive Rob Pitcher said state support for bars which have seen their trade decimated during the crisis is ‘totally inadequate’ and called £1,000 grants ‘derisory and insulting’

ONS figures suggested nearly a fifth of hospitality firms are at 'severe' risk of going bust

ONS figures suggested nearly a fifth of hospitality firms are at ‘severe’ risk of going bust 

Which Revolution bars are set to close? 

  • Revolution America Square (London)
  • Revolution Birmingham
  • Revolution Sunderland
  • Revolution Bath
  • Revolution Clapham High Street
  • Revolution Solihull
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On Thursday, Revolution confirmed its trading performance for the past financial year, reporting a decline in revenues to £20.6million in the last six months from £72.1million for the same period last year. 

It reported a slump in revenue to £110.1million for the year to June, from £151.4million in the previous year.

The group dropped to statutory pre-tax profit of £31.7million for the period, as it was impacted by £21million in exceptional costs.

Mr Pitcher said: ‘The recent grants of £1,000 per pub as compensation for being deprived of our most important trading period is derisory and insulting, and underlines a complete lack of understanding of the costs associated with businesses of this nature (even when they are shut) or any sympathy for the consequences of their inept decisions.

‘The next few months will continue to be challenging and entirely dependent on imposed operating restrictions. 

‘Further meaningful government support will be required to help safeguard the industry and avoid further job losses, particularly for young people.’ 

However, Mr Pitcher said he is confident that Revolution will emerge from the crisis ‘as a more focused business’.

The group said its trading outlook remains uncertain, but recent progress with coronavirus vaccines is likely to deliver a ‘path towards a gradual recovery’ to previous trading levels from Easter. 

In the three weeks before the curfew was introduced, the business’s bar sales were at nearly 78 per cent of last year’s levels. In the five weeks since the curfew started, the figure dropped to 49.4 per cent. 

Empty tables on the street outside bar Revolution on Bedford Place in Southampton

Empty tables on the street outside bar Revolution on Bedford Place in Southampton

In October, Mr Pitcher said: ‘Throughout this extended period of distress caused by Covid-19, the group has sought to prioritise the health and wellbeing of its staff and customers, minimise its cash consumption, maintain good levels of liquidity to ensure its ongoing viability and to be in a position to take advantage of opportunities that may arise once restrictions are lifted. 

‘The CVA proposed by the group’s Revolution Bars Limited subsidiary entity, if agreed by landlords, is another proactive step to lower outgoings to help safeguard the future of the group and improve long-term performance.’

Also today, Wetherspoon pub chairman Tim Martin blamed ‘flawed’ scientific advice on coronavirus deaths for renewed curbs on the hospitality sector.   

In remarks to the company’s Annual General Meeting, he said: ‘In October, the prediction of Sir Patrick Vallance, chief scientific adviser, of 4,000 deaths per day, upon which the government instigated a second lockdown, proved to be wildly inaccurate.

‘It seems certain that the biggest flaw in these predictions has been an overestimation of the fatality rate of Covid-19.’

He added that the predictions that had turned out to be true in 2020 relate to ‘the effects of lockdowns and government actions on the economy and health.’

How many pubs will EVER open again? Fears bars and restaurants face THREE MONTHS of restrictions with 21,000 venues in England currently under Tier 3 and millions of pints poured away 

Christmas rules for bubbles compared to pubs in England’s tiers 

Different households mixing indoors

  • Christmas bubble at home – YES
  • Tier 2 pub – NO
  • Tier 3 pub – NO (closed)

Different households mixing outdoors

  • Christmas bubble at home – YES
  • Tier 2 pub – YES
  • Tier 3 pub – NO (closed)  

Wear a mask while walking around

  • Christmas bubble at home – NO
  • Tier 2 pub – YES
  • Tier 3 pub – NO (closed)

Alcohol without substantial meal 

  • Christmas bubble at home – YES
  • Tier 2 pub – NO
  • Tier 3 pub – NO (closed)
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Pubs and restaurants’ future looked bleak with landlords worrying if they would ever be able to open again.

Millions of pints have had to be poured away in London as it was thrown into Tier 3 this morning.

And huge amounts of food – brought in for ‘substantial meals’ to allow places to open – had to be binned. 

One landlord revealed it had been forced to let staff go after hiring them last week ahead of a predicted Christmas spell open.

And a leader for the pub industry warned that 270million pints would be lost by the sector. 

It came as the plans to let people in Britain to gather in ‘unregulated’ homes over Christmas was branded ‘a mockery’.

Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA), told MailOnline it predicted huge losses: ‘It will be millions of pints. We wasted 70 million in the first lockdown.

‘Now with the trade being closed it’s the equivalent of 270 million pints that are being lost to the sector. That puts a real picture on how much we stand to lose. If there are any further lockdowns that would be another issue.

‘There is great uncertainty for the industry right now. Going in and out of Tiers on a regular basis is even more uncertainty to be added in. 

‘Having to make sure your business model can keep flexing and adapting all of the time. We are expecting that we will be under some kind of restriction for at least three months. 

Ye Old Mitre in Barnet regulars raise a glass on the last night before London headed to Tier 3

Ye Old Mitre in Barnet regulars raise a glass on the last night before London headed to Tier 3 

There have been zero coronavirus cases in the Ye Old Mitre due to Covid safety measures

There have been zero coronavirus cases in the Ye Old Mitre due to Covid safety measures

‘Tier 3 restrictions are catastrophic for the beer and pub sector. This will force and accelerate the closing of many pubs and the loss of many jobs.

‘As soon as we can possibly come out of the Tiers, we absolutely have to.

‘We are anticipating there will be something to pay for after allowing households to mix in private settings on the other side. That could be a further lockdown for the beer and pub sector. It would be devastating.

‘We are praying for a roadmap. We hope there’s a roadmap to recovery that we can bank on from Easter. However, many of our businesses will have gone by then.’ 

Gary Murphy, landlord of Ye Old Mitre in Barnet, told MailOnline: ‘I have not had any earnings since the start of March. I took on a new member of staff a week ago but I have to let her ago, despite the fact she was terrific. She was superb and hopefully she will come back to us – it’s not fair on her or us this.

‘There will be stuff I have to throw away, it really depends on how long the closure is for.

‘If it’s January I will lose kegs and there are a few thousand pounds down there. 

‘The irony is 99.9% of my customers don’t want any of this, they know the social distancing and hand sanitizer make its safe. We have had zero cases of coronavirus in our pub. It doesn’t make sense.’ 

Rubbish left from London's last night in Tier 2 was seen on the streets this morning

Rubbish left from London’s last night in Tier 2 was seen on the streets this morning

Under Tier 3 restrictions pubs and restaurants have to close or serve takeaway

Under Tier 3 restrictions pubs and restaurants have to close or serve takeaway

The Coach & Horses had boarded up its windows as the Tier 3 restrictions were heralded in

The Coach & Horses had boarded up its windows as the Tier 3 restrictions were heralded in

Pubs: ‘Takeaway is no revenue-maker for us’ 

Gary Murphy, landlord of Ye Old Mitre in Barnet, has had no coronavirus cases in his pub yet is being forced to close.

He said: ‘We are closed now and thinking about whether we would do takeaway. Customers are fantastic, they are loyal to the pub. Takeaway is not a revenue-making activity. We are a prober boozer, people come to the pub for a drink.

‘Last night and the night before we were safe and had the people in, I don’t understand why I am being forced to closed.

‘I have not had any earnings since the start of March. I took on a new member of staff a week ago but I have to let ago, despite the fact she was terrific. She was superb and hopefully she will come back to us – it’s not fair on her or us this.

‘There will be stuff I have to throw away, it really depends on how long the closure is for.

‘If it’s January I will lose kegs and there are a few thousand pounds down there

‘We have had only two weeks of being open. Having had such a bad year like this, it is just going on and on. We have lost half a million in takings.

‘The irony is 99.9% of my customers don’t want any of this, they know the social distancing and hand sanitizer make its safe. We have had zero cases of coronavirus in our pub. It doesn’t make sense.’

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Earlier Ms McClarkin told MPs that ‘the ban on actual household mixing inside our venues within the tiering system is absolutely devastating for the pub sector’. 

She told the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee that bringing people together is ‘what we do’, adding: ‘We are a community centre, a community hub and we’ve invested millions to make us Covid-secure.’

She continued: ‘It is actually making a mockery by banning us from allowing people to mix and meet together when the Government has now introduced a Christmas plan that allows them to do that in private, unregulated and unsafe settings where all bets are off.’

Meanwhile Tim Martin, chairman of JD Wetherspoon which now has less than 400 of its 875 pubs across Britain still open, warned that the ‘New Year promises carnage’ for hospitality. 

It comes as London went into Tier Three on Wednesday at midnight along with parts of Essex and Hertfordshire, shutting all pubs, restaurants and entertainment venues. 

Pub industry bosses say 56,000 jobs are now at risk in London with all 3,680 pubs in the capital now shut apart from a selection doing takeaway, with 8,000 of these jobs hit by Tier Three.

UKHospitality said 150,000 jobs were at risk after pubs and restaurants were forced to shut in London – and there are now fears over how long the closures will last.

The tougher Tier Two rules since the second lockdown ended have also left pubs in these areas facing a cash crunch of large rents, often high debt and low income. 

Analysis by real estate advisers Altus Group said nearly 14,000 pubs, bars, cafes and restaurants in the capital will now be closed or restricted to takeaway services, while more than 1,500 hotels and guest houses have also shut with limited exceptions.

The UK Cinema Association said more than 100 sites now had to close, while all West End theatres have shut despite only just reopening after the second lockdown. 

Under Tier Three rules, hospitality businesses such as restaurants, pubs, cafes and coffee shops must close to sit-in customers and can only offer a takeaway service.

In Tier Two, people can go to the pub but must only do so with other members of their household or support bubble – although they can mix with others outside.

People enjoy an outdoor meal at a pub in London’s Soho last night on the last day of Tier Two

Kate Nicholls, UKHospitality

British Beer and Pub Association chief executive Emma McClarkin

UKHospitality boss Kate Nicholls (left) and British Beer and Pub Association chief executive Emma McClarkin (right) have both voiced concerns about the long-term impact of closures

Tony Jones, 57, who manages the Red Lion pub in Stratton Audley, Oxfordshire, which is still in Tier Two, told MailOnline that some of his customers are buying a substantial meal to go with an alcohol drink - then not even eating it

Tony Jones, 57, who manages the Red Lion pub in Stratton Audley, Oxfordshire, which is still in Tier Two, told MailOnline that some of his customers are buying a substantial meal to go with an alcohol drink – then not even eating it

Ms McClarkin also questioned how pubs were making sure that people are not mixing indoors but emphasised: ‘We are publicans, not policemen.’

She told the committee: ‘The vast majority I have to say are abiding by those rules, and that’s pubs and pub-goers.’

‘We absolutely support enforcement measures. If pubs are flouting those rules then I think they should have action taken against them because they are undoing the absolutely sterling work the majority of pubs are doing,’ she added.

‘Inevitably we will rely on the information we’re given from customers and their ability and desire to want to comply with the rules.’ 

The next review on tiers will be on December 23, which is a week sooner than a review every 14 days, as the Government had previously committed.

Mr Martin told the Daily Telegraph: ‘The worry is that Government seems oblivious to the economic consequences of its actions.

‘Apart from two remote areas, all pubs in the UK are effectively shut, but about a third have opened as restaurants and will be lossmaking, since they’re not designed for that.

‘The financial elastic for hospitality is stretched to breaking point now – the New Year promises carnage.’

Tim Martin (pictured in October), chairman of JD Wetherspoon which now has less than 400 of its 875 pubs open, warned that the 'New Year promises carnage' for hospitality

Tim Martin (pictured in October), chairman of JD Wetherspoon which now has less than 400 of its 875 pubs open, warned that the ‘New Year promises carnage’ for hospitality

Meanwhile Tony Jones, 57, who manages the Red Lion pub in Stratton Audley, Oxfordshire, which is still in Tier Two, told MailOnline that some of his customers are buying a substantial meal to go with an alcohol drink – then not even eating it.

He said : ‘We’re finding it really difficult for Tier Two. We’re a small pub in a village. We’re predominantly older people here, so there is a worry amongst the older people although some of them as are adamant about not abiding by the rules as the younger people.

‘Older people are more stuck in their ways – they want to come to the bar, we’re forever telling them off.’

Mr Jones added that the ‘food situation is a nightmare for us’, saying many customers want to come in for a drink before they go home for an evening meal.

He said: ‘People are buying food in some cases and then leaving it because they don’t want it.’

Mr Jones, whose pub is owned by the Enterprise Inns chain, continued: ‘If we stay in Tier Two after today, we’ll probably shut

‘We’re doing 18 or 20 covers and they’re here for three hours and we can’t do any more. We’re not making any money out of it.

‘We’re having to get more staff because we’re having to go to the tables. We’re trying to abide by the rules but it’s b****y hard.’

He added that he normally puts in an order for a barrel of real ale each Monday, but these only have a maximum life of five days after being opened, and contain about 72 pints.

Mr Jones said he pays about £120 a barrel and would sell a pint for about £4.50, meaning he needs to sell 27 pints in five days just to break even.

The streets of London's Soho are cleaned this morning after rubbish was left on them

The streets of London’s Soho are cleaned this morning after rubbish was left on them

It comes as Rishi Sunak is expected to reject a plea by London’s mayor Sadiq Khan for a bailout for the hospitality industry after the capital was moved into Tier Three.

He called on the Chancellor to put a compensation scheme in place, guaranteeing to make up all lost income for the festive season based on last year’s returns.

But the Treasury said Mr Sunak had already announced support for hospitality firms and the funds on offer would not be increased.

A source said: ‘We’ve put in place £280billion worth of support in this pandemic to protect millions of jobs and businesses.

‘The furlough scheme has been extended through to March and businesses can apply for grants and Government-guaranteed loans as well as enjoying VAT holidays and business rates relief.’

Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced on Monday that he was forced to put London into Tier Three along with parts of Essex and Hertfordshire in a bid to slow ‘sharp, exponential rises’ in coronavirus across all ages.

Theatre bosses said the new rules – which will also force them to close venues – will prove ‘devastating’.

Mr Khan said: ‘I don’t want London to be in Tier Three for a day longer than necessary. I am hugely concerned about the negative impact that the additional restrictions will have on jobs and many businesses that are already struggling to stay afloat.

‘We now urgently need much more government support for the sectors of our economy that are being hit the hardest, including hospitality, culture, and leisure.

‘It is crucial that ministers urgently put in place a compensation scheme for all lost income, based on last year’s returns, for any businesses affected by the further restrictions during this crucial festive period.’

Revellers dance in the street in Soho ahead of London being moved into Tier Three

Revellers dance in the street in Soho ahead of London being moved into Tier Three

Ros Morgan, Chief Executive of Heart of London Business Alliance, said it was extremely disappointing to see London moved to Tier 3.

She said: ‘Public health rightly remains the priority, but almost shutting down central London the week before Christmas will have a hugely damaging impact on already hard-hit sectors. When London succeeds, so does the rest of the UK. A weakened London in no way supports the levelling up agenda. London’s status as a global city makes it a national asset which we should be doing everything in our power to support.

‘Tier 3 is effectively another lockdown for the arts and cultural sector. Having worked hard to ensure COVID-safe measures were in place and some productions only opening up this week, last minute cancellations of productions will cause catastrophic financial difficulties for venues, producers and thousands of workers – especially the freelancers who make up 70% of the theatre workforce. We risk the near extinction of the arts and culture sector in one of the most culturally rich areas in the world, not only putting jobs at risk but permanently removing a piece of London’s cultural offer and the UK’s soft power abroad.

‘If culture is to survive, it needs immediate help and investment from the Government to ensure that jobs are maintained and institutions are kept afloat during periods of forced closure. There is an urgent need for a government-backed insurance scheme, as already provided to film and television, for compensation to mitigate losses incurred by productions forced to close, and for targeted support for freelance workers unable to take advantage of the furlough scheme. The sector will also need further specific long-term support measures when the Government allows large-scale gatherings once more.

‘We believe that London needs a clear roadmap out of this crisis. It’s good news that vaccines present an exit strategy from restrictions, and that it’s in sight. But that is still many months away. Our experience over the summer shows that footfall will not return instantly even when restrictions are lifted, and businesses will therefore need continued support so that they can play a role in helping drive London and the UK’s economic recovery.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak

London Mayor Sadiq Khan

Chancellor Rishi Sunak (left) is expected to reject a plea by London Mayor Sadiq Khan (right) for a bailout for the hospitality industry after the capital was moved into Tier Three

‘If London is expected to go through a stop-start system of repeated lockdowns, then we need much clearer advice from government of what support businesses can expect so that they can plan effectively and efficiently.’

It comes as a senior minister said the Government is to press ahead with the easing of coronavirus restrictions over Christmas even though it will lead to an increase in the infection rate.

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said that it would be up to people to make a ‘personal judgment’ whether they wanted to meet up with vulnerable family members over the holiday period.

He suggested that some people may decide to ‘keep it small’ and put off larger gatherings until the spring, saying: ‘Easter can be the new Christmas.’

Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove is resuming talks over the plans for up to three households to mix between December 23 and 27 with leaders of the devolved administrations.

A UK Government source has acknowledged the four UK nations may take differing approaches, but insisted there would be no change in the law in England. 

It comes as nearly 10.8 million more people begin living under the toughest restrictions as London and parts of Essex and Hertfordshire move into Tier Three.

With 61 per cent of England’s population now living under the strictest measures, ministers were due to formally review which tiers are appropriate for each area. 

A snap YouGov poll of 3,856 adults found 57 per cent believed the Christmas plans should be dropped and the current rules remain in place during the festive period.

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