Greene King to close 79 pubs and axe 800 jobs as 10pm curfew hits industry
GREENE King is planning to close 79 pubs and restaurants in a move it's blamed on the government's 10pm curfew.
The boozer has confirmed 26 sites will permanently shut, while a further 53 will temporarily close with their future remaining in the balance.
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The Greene King group has more than 1,700 pubs across the UK and also owns brands including Farmhouse Inns and Hungry Horse. The group employs 38,000 workers.
The chain says it's too soon to say which pubs and restaurants will close for good, and which will shut temporarily. But it has confirmed it will be across the Greene King, Hungry Horse, and Lock Fyne brands.
It adds that 11 Loch Fyne restaurants are among the 26 sites that won't ever reopen.
Around 800 staff across the 79 sites are now in consultation with the chain about being made redundant, although it's hoped some of these workers will be redeployed.
Restaurant and food chain job losses
A NUMBER of high-profile restaurant and food chains have announced job cuts following the coronavirus crisis.
- Zizzi owner Azzurri Group announced in July 2020 that it would permanently shut 75 branches, putting 1,200 jobs at risk
- Frankie & Benny's owner The Restaurant Group has proposed closing 125 branches, with 3,000 jobs on the line
- Byron Burger is shutting 31 restaurants, around half of its UK sites, with 600 jobs at risk
- Bella Italia and Cafe Rouge have announced the closure of 91 restaurants, with 1,900 jobs to go
- Carluccio’s is cutting 1,000 jobs with 40 restaurants to shut
- Costa Coffee is axing 1,650 jobs – it hasn't announced any store closures at this stage
- Pizza Express has confirmed it'll be closing 73 restaurants, putting 1,100 jobs at risk
- Pret a Manger is cutting 2,800 jobs with 30 stores to close
- Upper Crust plans to make 5,000 out of its 9,000-strong workforce redundant
- Wetherspoons is planning to cut 450 jobs from six pubs, as well as 130 head office roles.
- Whitbread (which owns Brewers Fayre, Premier Inn and Beefeater) is planning to cut 6,000 jobs as hotel demand slumps.
- Young's is making 500 out of 4,200 staff redundant.
The chain blames the closures on the introduction of a 10pm curfew on boozers and restaurants in England from September 24.
The government crackdown is designed to curb the spread of coronavirus as cases continue to soar.
Pubs and restaurants face second lockdown in Scotland
The UK-wide seven-day average coronavirus rate stands at 125.7 cases per 100,000 people, up from 63.8 a week ago.
While in Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon is set to announce a two-week "circuit-breaker" lockdown with pubs and restaurants shutting as soon as this weekend.
Pubs in England were forced to close their doors back in March as a result of the coronavirus lockdown.
They were only allowed to reopen again from July 4 in England – as long as they followed coronavirus safety measures. Reopenings in Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales varied as coronavirus is a devolved issue.
At the time, Greene King showed The Sun around its new look bars, which can only operate at 60% capacity due to social distancing.
Thousands of hospitality jobs at risk
Greene King is just the latest chain to announce job cuts after struggling with the coronavirus.
Clive Watson, chief executive of City Pub Group, has warned of more job losses on top. He told The Financial Times earlier this week: “It’s the social distancing. In a pub environment six people at a table is fine but you are not getting the vertical drinking or the big bookings.”
Last week, it was predicted 300,000 jobs would be lost in pubs, bars and breweries if restrictions don’t change.
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The study was conducted by Oxford Economics for the British Beer and Pub Association and it suggested that almost a third of existing jobs in the sector.
In September, Wetherspoon's announced plans to cut 350 jobs from its six airport pubs.
The company has already announced it plans on axing 130 head office roles following the coronavirus crisis.
Meanwhile, rival company Whitbread, which owns Beefeater, Brewers Fayre and Premier Inn, announced plans to cut 6,000 jobs.
And Costa Coffee is planning to chop 1,650 jobs – around 10% of its workforce.
Pret a Manger is also cutting 2,800 jobs and closing 30 shops.
Prices at hospitality venues have been slashed by up to 28% following a VAT holiday announced by chancellor Rishi Sunak in July.
The temporary break sees VAT cut down from 20% to 5% to help the two of the industries worst hit by the coronavirus crisis bounce back.
It was due to end on January 31, 2020 but Mr Sunak later extended it until 31 March, 2020.
A spokesperson for Greene King said: “The continued tightening of the trading restrictions for pubs, which may last another six months, along with the changes to government support was always going to make it a challenge to reopen some of our pubs.
"Therefore, we have made the difficult decision to close 26 sites permanently and not reopen a further 53 pubs for now. We are working hard with our teams to try and find them a role in another of our pubs wherever possible.
“We urgently need the government to step in and provide tailored support to help the sector get through to the spring and prevent further pub closures and job losses.”
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