Covid-19 / Pubs / 16 June 2020
A survey conducted by the Scottish Beer & Pub Association (SBPA) in conjunction with other members of the licensed trade has revealed that Scotland’s pubs could be decimated, if social distancing guidelines are not re-examined in time for the provisional re-opening of premises on 15 July. The survey, which covered over 300 pubs across Scotland (around 7% of the total), found that it would not be financially viable for almost nine out of ten landlords to reopen their doors if the two-metre distancing guidelines were still in place – potentially leading to the direct loss of over 23,600 jobs within the trade. With many of Scotland’s key independent restaurant and pub businesses coming together to call for the Scottish Government to fall in-line with the World Health Organisation’s guidance, including a one-metre rule for social distancing, it’s hoped that their approach will help kick-start the industry and save jobs in the hospitality sector. Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the Scottish Beer & Pub Association, said: “The results make for stark reading. Not only will 87 per cent of those surveyed be unable to open, those that can trade at the two-metre mark will potentially have to let 52 per cent of staff go. This would lead to over 23,600 jobs losses in our sector alone. “Keeping a two-metre rule in place simply does not make financial sense and the fall out will see the loss of thousands of jobs affecting both the Scottish economy and local communities in the process. “We have seen within the survey that whilst implementing a controlled environment to protect both customers and staff and dropping social distancing measures to one metre, we will see 82 per cent of licensed businesses being able to open their doors to the public and provide a much needed boost to the industry. “What’s clear is that the majority of licensed premises will simply not be able to operate under the proposed two-metre distancing, leading to mass unemployment within the sector. We are calling upon the Scottish Government to both reassess the current measures in place if they wish to kick-start the industry and work with us to safeguard over 23,600 jobs.” Lisa Wishart, from Lisini's, said: “Here at Lisini’s, it is simply not viable for us to reopen on 15 July due to the current social distancing rules. However, if we followed the World Health Organisation’s directive, not only could we provide a safe environment for our patrons, we would be able to safeguard most of our employees livelihood’s as we return to a new normal post Coronavirus.” The SBPA and wider group which includes Star Pubs and Bars, Belhaven, Hawthorn Leisure, Admiral Taverns, Punch Taverns, Caledonian Heritable Ltd, DRG, Buzzworks, Montpeliers, Manorview, Signature Pubs, Lisini and Caledonia Inns are keen to point out that as responsible license holders, not only could venues be classed as ‘controlled environments’ that would allow them to track and trace customers through a number of different methods - over 85 per cent of those surveyed planned to use PPE for staff when able to reopen. Case Studies: Mo Clark from Kained Holdings, who operate several bars including Lebowskis in Edinburgh and Glasgow said: “The current guidelines of 2m distancing would not allow for the majority of bars to operate profitably. Reducing some sites to 40 per cent trading capacity which simply does not work under most business models. “The focus for bars and restaurants across the sector which wish to remain viable, will be to reduce their cost base which will undoubtedly lead to significant redundancies. Those who are unable to find a path through this will have to shut their doors completely, further increasing the inevitable redundancies. “Particularly, where vertical drinking has made a business viable, the continuation of the 2m distancing means that many businesses couldn't even open their doors, let alone be profitable.” Gavin Stevenson from Gellions in Inverness said: "The Gellions is a Scottish live music pub trading since 1841 in Inverness. We book around 650, mostly Scottish, live music gigs a year and rely on being close to capacity most nights to remain financially viable. With two-metre social distancing our nearly 200 capacity venue reduces to just 11 people. “In a normal year our profit margin is less than 5 per cent of turnover and obviously there is no way for us to get even close to financial break-even with such huge reductions in trade. We'd lose more money opening under the proposed restrictions than we would staying closed.” Kevin McGee from Athletic Arms ‘Diggers’, in Dalry, Edinburgh said: “I’m bored silly, I’m a people person and can’t wait to open the doors. If it’s 2-meters it’ll most likely be me working with one other on reduced trading hours. In contrast, a 1-meter difference and we can get more staff off furlough, trade longer, start to pay off some bills and support the local community again.” Stuart McPhee from Siberia Bar & Hotel in Aberdeen said: “While we have a vast floor space and a versatile outside area within Siberia, the ability to service this at two-metre social distances takes what would normally be three people in a kitchen down to one on a given shift, and four people behind the bar when busy halved to two. “Regardless of how many people you can fit outside or inside customer wise, there is a direct impact on what kind of service our staffing levels can achieve. Where we will try and maintain our staff by diversifying our service style and rotating in teams post Covid, it is clear that tough operational choices lay ahead. “We have solutions and we have things we can implement such as entry temperature checks, PPE & disinfectant fogging now that can make our environments covid secure and regulated, that could mean we as an industry could be permitted to lower the distance to survive and prevent further job losses across the sector.” David Stein from Cafebar 1807 in Linlithgow said: “While I believe we need to listen to the experts, it will be completely unviable for us to open in any capacity until we have a 1m rule.” Nic Wood from Signature Pubs added: “We cannot operate all of our businesses with 2m social distancing restrictions, and closures in the sector will sadly continue with bars and restaurants mothballed beyond the end of furlough. We are not ignoring the transmission rate or the health issues, merely stating that 2m makes some businesses unviable.”Read more
16 February 2021
In response to the statement by the Finance Secretary, Kate Forbes MSP, confirming that retail, tourism, hospitality and aviation businesses will pay no rates during 2021-22 Emma McClarkin, CEO of Scottish beer & Pubs Association said:“We welcome the news today that the Scottish Government has heeded our calls for further fiscal support for our sector. This news gives relief to the thousands of pub businesses in Scotland who have now been closed for several months and remain unclear when they will be able to open their doors again. Our industry is teetering on the precipice and we now urgently need a clear roadmap to reopening from the First Minister when she unveils her Framework next week - hospitality cannot be at the end of the queue.”
27 January 2021
Welcoming the announcement today, Emma McClarkin, Chief Executive of both the British Beer & Pub Association and Scottish Beer & Pub Association, said: “This announcement today is much welcomed by Scotland’s brewers who have been amongst the hardest hit by the pandemic and it’s encouraging that Government are listening to our concerns and those of our members. The closure of pubs and other hospitality venues for large parts of last year and stretching into this year has been devastating to the sector.“This Scottish Government support package, whilst not replacing lost income, will help provide a bridge to the other side of the pandemic for many of our fantastic, world-leading producers who have been responsible for a brewing renaissance in Scotland over the last decade. It is recognition of the important contribution Scottish brewers make to the economy, jobs and culture. “Scotland’s brewers will now be looking towards the Chancellor’s budget in March, where a reduction to beer duty and extension of the cut in VAT to include alcohol is vital to their continued operation. We hope that the UK Government also looks to replicate the support given to Scotland’s brewers to those across the rest of the UK.” Details of the support package is available here: https://findbusinesssupport.gov.scot/service/funding/brewers-support-fund This fund is to support Scotland's brewing sector. The Scottish Government recognises that this sector has faced unprecedented challenges since March 2020 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. This fund will be administered through local authorities (your local council) and will provide one-off grants of up to £30,000 to eligible businesses. The level of grant awarded will depend on the rateable value of the premises in which the brewery is located and will also take into account annual production level. Awards will be as follows: £10,000 for premises which have a rateable value of up to and including £18,000 £25,000 for premises which have a rateable value of £18,001 or above £30,000 for a property from which they operate with a rateable value of over £51,000 or production over 5,000HL in 2019.
15 December 2020
The economic viability of Scotland’s crisis-hit hospitality industry could be dramatically enhanced and the prospects for tens of thousands of workers improved by relatively minor changes to restrictions policy, according to a new economic impact study. The independent study by BiGGAR Economics found that adjusting opening hours by around two and a half hours and allowing alcohol to be served under strictly controlled conditions would increase hospitality business turnover from £419m to £1.1bn; increasing the number of jobs supported from the current 28,300 to 60,800; and securing the viability of 1,816 businesses. Scotland’s main hospitality groups, the Scottish Beer & Pub Association (SBPA), Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA) and UKHospitality-Scotland (UKH-Scotland) are now calling for the Scottish Government to urgently implement the changes to save businesses and jobs. The changes to restrictions would also transform the impact on public finances, turning a £261m fiscal cost of subsidy into a £63m positive tax contribution. The report states that a return to the stricter restrictions as seen up to 10thDecember, would cost thousands of jobs and come at a fiscal cost of £347 million. The economic impact study examined several policy scenarios - all of which maintain key restrictions to ensure public safety and to prevent the spread of COVID-19 - but allow longer opening hours and alcohol to be served across Levels 1 to 3 of the Scottish Government’s regional restrictions. CEO of the Scottish Beer & Pub Association, Emma McClarkin said: “Public health remains the paramount concern and hospitality businesses have proven they can operate safely with comprehensive COVID-19 measures in place. This economic impact study shows that relatively minor changes to opening hours and allowing businesses to serve alcohol responsibly, would transform the commercial viability of the sector. Managing Director of the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, Colin Wilkinson said: “This would create a more sustainable environment for hospitality businesses beyond Christmas and ensure more of them survive the winter, continue to create jobs and play the positive role as part of the fabric of communities the length and breadth of Scotland.” Director of UKHospitality-Scotland, Wille MacLeod said: “The restrictions, as currently in place, have a disproportionate impact on the hospitality sector and is costing the Scottish economy millions of pounds. A relaxation, as has been suggested by the industry would give our sector a transformative boost and help support business in the crucial recover period.” The study, which was commissioned by Diageo on behalf of the hospitality sector, revealed the enormous economic cost the current restrictions policy is having on the hospitality sector, reducing annualized turnover from £2bn pre-Covid to just £276m under the restrictions that were in place in November, with the number of jobs supported collapsing from 83,400 to 19,100. The report examines the economic impact of five scenarios, including restrictions in place before 11th December, restrictions currently in place, and three potential alternative scenarios: The first alternative policy scenario looked at extending closing times from 8pm to 10.30pm and allowing alcohol to be served with food in Levels 1 to 3. This scenario supports £927 million in turnover and 53,100 jobs; however, it represents a fiscal cost of £14 million. The second alternative policy scenario looked at also allowing wet-led pubs and bars that don’t serve food to be open until 8pm in Levels 1 to 3. This supports £1.1 billion in turnover, 60,800 jobs, and a fiscal benefit of £63 million. The third alternative policy scenario looked at allowing all hospitality businesses to be open until 10.30pm and to serve alcohol. This supports £1.2 billion in turnover, 65,400 jobs, and a fiscal benefit of £105 million. In 2019, prior to the global pandemic, Scotland’s hospitality industry contributed £1.8 billion Gross Value Added (GVA, a measure of economic output) to Scotland’s economy. The sector also supported 83,400 jobs and was associated with £812 million in tax revenues. The report highlights that restrictions on the hospitality sector, as based on the levels in place across Scotland from 11th December, supported £419 million in turnover and 28,300 jobs; however, it represents a fiscal cost of £261 million. The Scottish Government’s previous restrictions, which ended on 11th December, supported £276 million in and 19,100 jobs and represented a fiscal cost of £347 million. Graeme Blackett of BiGGAR Economics, said: “This study highlights the severe negative economic impact that COVID-19 restrictions have had on the hospitality sector, the businesses and people who work in the sector itself, and the businesses and employees in the supply chain. “It also demonstrates that scenarios which allow for extended trading, whilst maintaining appropriate safety restrictions, can place the hospitality sector and the wider food and drink supply chain in a much stronger position. “Minor adjustments to the restrictions could get thousands of people back to work and allow the sector to generate turnover, and contribute significantly to the public finances in 2021.”
09 December 2020
The Scottish Beer & Pub Association (SBPA) has today said that the decision to keep the City of Edinburgh in Level 3, despite the indicators showing continued improvement, could cost pub businesses up to £3.2m in lost turnover if there’s no change before January. Currently, SBPA analysis suggests that only 92 pubs in the city are open in Level 3, if moved to Level 2 that would increase to 277 (60% of Edinburgh’s pubs and bars). Commenting, SBPA CEO Emma McClarkin said: “The decision yesterday to keep Edinburgh in Level 3 was absolutely heartbreaking for the 185 pubs and bars that would otherwise have been able to open and start rebuilding their trade. The Christmas and New Year periods are critical to the year-round viability of many of these businesses, and if there’s no movement at the next review point, we’ll likely see some of these pubs never reopen. “We estimate that £3.2 million in turnover could be lost in the city alone between now and January 1st. This will undoubtedly result in jobs losses and a knock-on impact through the supply-chain at the worst possible time. These businesses have invested significantly in their premises to ensure that they are COVID-secure, it is simply unfair to keep moving the goal posts on them. “Level 2 still presents significant viability challenges, particularly on the time restrictions, but at least businesses would be able to start the recovery process and bring some much-needed relief over the Christmas period. “We strongly urge the Government to rethink their decision.”
08 December 2020
Commenting on the First Minister’s statement today, CEO of the Scottish Beer & Pub Association (SBPA) Emma McClarkin said: “This announcement today is bittersweet for Scotland’s pubs and bars. Whilst the news that further economic support for the sector will be outlined tomorrow is hugely welcome and long overdue, the unwillingness of the Government to review the time restrictions on hospitality and lack of progress on the Levels in certain areas like Edinburgh, is hugely disappointing. Only 42% of Scotland’s pubs and bars will be able open under these restrictions, leaving the majority on life-support. “The Christmas and New Year period is critically important to businesses in the hospitality sector and the news today that many will be unable to trade as they had hoped and expected will sadly mean some tough business decisions being made over the next few days. “In order to save jobs and hundreds of Scottish businesses, the Scottish Government must now ensure that the financial support package at least matches those on offer to pubs, bars and their supply chains in Wales. Currently, the average Welsh pub will receive four times more in financial support than the average Scottish pub over the Christmas period. The Cabinet Secretary needs to fix that tomorrow.”
03 December 2020
The Scottish Beer & Pub Association (SBPA) has today (Thursday) called on the Scottish Government to save thousands of pubs and other hospitality businesses by ‘at least’ matching the level of economic support the Welsh Government has committed to their pubs. Currently, the economic support afforded to the average Scottish pub stretches to just £2,700 for the six-week Christmas period, whilst the average pub in Wales will receive £11,300. Some pubs in Wales will be eligible for upwards of £17,000 in grant support, whilst Scottish pubs will struggle to survive this Christmas. It is also understood that there will be no cap on multiple operators in Wales, something which the Scottish Government has included on previous grants. This resulted in many SMEs in the hospitality sector receiving reduced levels of support, putting more jobs at risk. Commenting, CEO of the Scottish Beer & Pub Association, Emma McClarkin, said: "As a sector, hospitality businesses are on their knees and are desperately crying out for meaningful economic support. Whilst any grant is of course welcome, the current level of funding does not come close to covering fixed costs, even when closed. In order to support jobs, the Scottish Government needs to at least match the support offered to pub in Wales. "Every day that passes without further economic support means that more pubs will stay closed for good and more jobs will be lost as a result. Pubs in Wales have been given a lifeline which we hope will now see most of their pubs reach the other side of the pandemic. Meanwhile, pubs in Scotland face devastation. "The Scottish Government cannot delay any further and must now announce more support for the hospitality sector, which provides over 100,000 jobs in Scotland. They must also support the jobs of those workers that are employed by multiple operators. The current restriction on grant support means that hundreds of jobs are being put at additional risk, for no reason. Some pubs, if owned by multiple operators will receive absolutely nothing. "If the Welsh Government can support hospitality jobs and businesses with this level of support, the Scottish Government must be able to provide at least equitable support. Without it, thousands of pubs likely stay closed for good."