Rescue our Christmas plea by Marston’s pubs boss

Pub chain Marston’s has appealed for urgent help from ministers to help save its Christmas.

Marston’s chief executive Ralph Findlay
Marston’s chief executive Ralph Findlay

The Banks’s brewer says it is essential pubs are allowed to reopen once current lockdown measures come to an end at the start of December.

Its chief executive Ralph Findlay has called for England to adopt a similar system to that now in place in Wales, allowing bars and restaurants to start trading.

He has told the Government: “Talk to us more and talk to us sooner.”

Last month, Wolverhampton-based Marston’s revealed it was cutting 2,000 jobs due to the Covid-19 restrictions. Mr Findlay has warned more job losses could not be ruled out as the crisis in the hospitality industry continues.

He said that what was needed was a boost to customer confidence and that there was light at the end of the tunnel. And he said clarity now would enable the pub industry to plan for Christmas – and allow families the prospect of being able to celebrate with a meal or drink away from their home.

Following the lockdown in Wales pubs have reopened with a 10.20pm curfew, allowing groups of four from different families and families being allowed to dine with more than six people.

“I hope we can get something like that in England,” he said. “It is important we are able to have a plan to work to.”

Marston’s had been creating 1,000 new jobs a year for the decade up to the beginning of the pandemic.

Confidence

Mr Findlay said he was really proud of that record and that the pubs and restaurants group had provided employment in areas where it had been hard to find.

He said that half of Marston’s workforce was under 25-years-old and part of his job was to stand up for that group of people and that he had been deeply upset to have had to cut jobs.

Mr Findlay spoke after it was revealed by UK Hospitality that the Covid pandemic has led to the loss of about 660,000 jobs in the UK’s hospitality sector this year.

He said “the industry lost confidence in government” partly because they had first heard of many of its plans for restrictions after leaks to the media.

Mr Findlay told a Government select committee that Marston’s would need “at least a week” to prepare its 1,300 sites for possible reopening.

He added: “I don’t know what restrictions I’ll be working to. I don’t know how many people of the 10,000 on furlough I can bring back. I don’t know what discussions I need to have with my supply teams.

"We haven’t had any communication from government over that process so far, and we need it.”

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