Pub chain Young & Co says that being plunged into a national lockdown was actually better for its business in London than the potential move to Tier 3.
Prior to the latest closure of the hospitality sector, Young’s said trading had been encouraging, with the business achieving 73% of last year’s sales, despite additional government restrictions and the introduction of Tier 2 status for London, which affected 80% of its managed estate.
All of its pubs closed on 5 November when the latest lockdown was enforced nationally, but chief executive Patrick Dardis said the situation wasn’t as dire as it might otherwise have been.
“Whilst we were hoping that a further lockdown could have been avoided, the second lockdown with the financial support available from the government will be considerably less damaging to our business than the potential move to Tier 3.
“For the four-week closure we would expect a cash burn of between £4m and £5m, achieved by the reintroduction of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. We are hopeful that when we re-open on 3 December, we will see the back of the 10pm curfew and London moves to Tier 1.”
Mr Dardis said he remained “positive” about the prospect of trading in December, but admitted it was unlikely to be anything like previous years.
“Unfortunately, the typical excitement of the festive period and the opportunities this usually brings us has been replaced with uncertainty. At this time, we would usually have 90% of bookings already in the diary; without the prospect of hosting large group get-togethers, corporate Christmas parties and spontaneous festive drinks, the outlook for this December is far from certain.
“The resilience of our customers has truly amazed us. The cautious approach we adopted on re-opening and the safe environment we provided were key reasons why our customers flocked back in large numbers, even with the heightened restrictions. This gives us confidence in the future of our pubs, our business and our long-term strategy.”