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  • No Date for Beer Gardens and Outdoor Areas for Pub Sector

    18 June 2020

    Following the First Minister’s announcement this afternoon that the decision on re-opening outdoor areas of pubs, bars and other licensed venues will be reviewed on 2 July, 2020, Emma McClarkin CEO of the Scottish Beer & Pub Association (SBPA) said:“Pubs and bars across Scotland will be somewhat disappointed by this announcement, with many expecting to be given a definitive date today for re-opening their outdoor space to allow them to start preparing to open again. That’s sadly not the case, with these businesses now having to wait a further two weeks before any clarity on when they can welcome back their customers into beer gardens and other outdoor areas. “The First Minister committed the Government to working with our industry over the next two weeks and we will enthusiastically engage in that to get our pubs and bars re-open as soon as possible. With our industry now going three months without any customers and fighting for survival, that opportunity cannot come soon enough. “While the re-opening of outdoor space would provide some relief to parts of our sector, the vast majority of pubs will be looking towards the 15th July for the full re-opening. Even then, there remains issues for our sector that need to be addressed to properly unlock the economic boost our pubs can contribute to the national economy. “Continuing to operate at a two metre social distance will make opening financially unviable for many and could results in over 23,600 job losses in our sector alone. A survey of our members shows that moving to the World Health Organisation backed one metre distance that many other countries have adopted would allow the majority of premises to safely open their doors again.”

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  • Over 23,600 hospitality jobs on the line if social distancing guidelines are not re-examined

    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.”

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    02 May 2020

    New research by the Scottish Beer & Pub Association (SBPA) has revealed that an estimated 1500 pubs eligible for vital grants, still haven’t received the funds from Local Authorities to help them survive the COVID-19 lockdown. The research showed that Glasgow City Council, which has 384 pubs eligible for the Coronavirus Business Support grants of £10,000 or £25,000, had the lowest percentage of grants paid with only 25% of applications reaching businesses as of the 28th of April. This leaves an estimated 288 pubs in the city without the much-needed lifeline of support, and only 96 receiving the funds. Across the whole of Scotland, 3,929 pubs are estimated to be eligible for a grant, with 61% (2,403) receiving the funds. This leaves an estimated 1526 pubs without this much needed cashflow at the end of the month, when bills and payments are due. The Local Authorities with the lowest percentage of approved applications for grant support are: Glasgow; 25.05% Approved; 288 Pubs without funds. South Lanarkshire; 48.95% Approved; 80 Pubs without funds. Fife; 51.71% Approved; 143 Pubs without funds. In contrast, those with highest percentage of approved applications for grant support are: Scottish Borders; 95.86% Approved; 5 Pubs without funds. Aberdeenshire; 83.84% Approved; 31 Pubs without funds. Clackmannanshire; 81.45% Approved; 7 Pubs without funds. The support package was announced by the Finance Secretary Kate Forbes in March, with Local Authorities expected to receive funds within 10 days. Over one month later, many businesses have still seen no sign of the cash. Commenting on the research, Emma McClarkin CEO of the Scottish Beer & Pub Association said: “Our research shows that too many Local Authorities are not paying grants to pubs and other hospitality businesses anywhere near quickly enough, with over 1500 pubs across Scotland estimated to still be waiting. For smaller pub businesses in particularthis grant funding is urgently needed. “This needs to be rectified immediately. Otherwise, pubs will close for good and the thousands of people they employ will lose jobs. “Credit must go to those Local Authorities who are doing the right thing and getting their grants to pubs and other businesses quickly. We need the Local Authorities to learn from best practice and get the urgently needed support to pub businesses as a matter of urgency.” This table uses data from the SBPA and that published by the Scottish Government here: Information on the Coronavirus Business Support grants (via local authorities is available here:

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  • SBPA Welcome Scottish Government Grant Extension for Multiple Operators

    15 April 2020

    Commenting on the Scottish Government’s extension of the grant scheme to multiple premises, the Scottish Beer and Pub Association’s CEO Emma McClarkin said: “This is a hugely welcome announcement from the Cabinet Secretary and one that the SBPA has been pushing the government repeatedly on over the last few weeks. This gives Pubs and other hospitality businesses the extra cashflow needed to survive at this time and will also allow more businesses to reopen once the pandemic is over. There remain areas where further support is still needed; pubs with rateable values of over £51,000 will still receive no grant support and is something we’re pushing both UK and Scottish Government’s for more action, but today’s a day many businesses will be saying ‘Cheers’ to Kate Forbes and the Scottish Government.”

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  • SBPA comment on pub closure order by UK & Scottish Governments

    20 March 2020

    Commenting on the closure of pubs in Scotland this evening, Paul Togneri of the Scottish Beer & Pub Association (SBPA) said: “Both Scottish and UK Governments have been clear that pubs must now shut down. The safety and wellbeing of people is our priority and we stand ready to play our part in the fight against COVID-19, helping to protect our communities and employees. “As a sector employing nearly 68,000 people in Scotland, the Chancellor’s support package announced today on staff wages, combined with the support announced by the Finance Secretary to Holyrood earlier in the week, will safeguard thousands of livelihoods and help closed pubs try to get through this difficult period. “We stand ready to work with both Governments and Local Authorities to ensure that the support is accessible as fast as possible. There remain areas where we need further support to sustain our great brewing and pub sector through this difficult time, to ensure that all staff will have jobs to return to and to guarantee all pubs can reopen again when this crisis is over and continue to be at the heart of communities up and down the country.”

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  • SBPA welcome COVID-19 Business Support, Workers Must Be Next

    18 March 2020

    The Scottish Beer & Pub Association (SBPA) has welcomed the announcement this afternoon from the Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Fair Work and Culture Fiona Hyslop of the £2.2bn worth of measures to support business, and the replication of measures announced by the Chancellor yesterday. Commenting, Paul Togneri of the Scottish Beer & Pub Association said: “The replication of the support that the Chancellor announced for businesses in England yesterday is very much welcomed by industry, and we commend the Scottish Government for the speed of their announcement. “Low-cost loans and business rates holidays are a positive step, but we now need immediate action to address the lack of cash in the beer and pub ecosystem. “For that we need an immediate announcement from the UK Government that they will guarantee that staff will be paid by underwriting at least 75% of wages. That is so companies can keep these staff on and easily reopen when the situation changes back to normal. “Mass and permanent pub closures are absolutely inevitable in a matter of days without a meaningful support package from the UK Government. Some pubs are already closing and there is no guarantee that they will ever reopen. “Another important step is quick access and distribution of the £10,000 and £25,000 grants. This can be done via pub owning companies who have capability and means to get the funding directly to the businesses that need it most. “These measures, alongside the immediate cancellation of duty payments due on 25th March and VAT payments due at the end of the month can stop critical cash leaving the system.”

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