Nottingham’s Castle Rock managing director calls for urgent support as brewery is on “verge of breakdown”.
Castle Rock ‘s boss Colin Wilde said after nearly 45 years in Nottinghamshire, the company’s future was threatened.
In a letter to Chancellor Rishi Sunak, Wilde called for urgent financial support to prevent pubs and bars across the county from having to close with the loss of thousands of jobs.
The brewery, which operates 22 pubs has suffered its toughest year since launching in 1977, with revenues down 50 per cent and the 10pm curfew resulting in a full day’s worth of lost income every week.
At the start of lockdown in March, Wilde reduced his salary to minimum wage in a bid to safeguard the company.
Wilde said: “We must be very clear: it is not just already vulnerable pubs which are at breaking point. Viable businesses – those that were thriving in a pre-Covid 19 world – are now making a loss.”
Wilde called for urgent action to support pubs and bars in Nottingham. Without immediate help, closure is inevitable for many businesses and thousands of jobs will be lost.
“We must be very clear: it is not just already-vulnerable pubs which are at breaking point. Viable businesses – those which were thriving in a pre-CV-19 world – are now making a loss.
The initial support granted through the business rates scheme, for those lucky enough to receive it, has been exhausted. Workers have taken considerable income cuts to help their employers survive.
Our own revenues across 22 pubs and a brewery are 50 per cent down, but our costs have gone up. Rent and loan interests still need to be met, and the expense of being Covid-compliant is extensive.
“Castle Rock has been a successful business since 1977 but that is now changing. Across the 12 months prior to the Covid outbreak, we contributed 3.75million to government coffers.
“From March 2020 to the ceasing of the job retention scheme, we will have claimed 1.85million in support. It is not unrealistic to ask for continued help that will see viable businesses like ours through the next stage of the pandemic, which will in turn secure our considerable contributions to the economy in the future.”
He criticised the Test and Trace system which makes it mandatory for all customers to sign into the company’s pubs.
“Yet those same customers can enjoy a day of leisure, shopping, or other pursuits, without having to do so. Each positive test which points to a pub or bar is the result of an incomplete testing system, not a negligent industry.
“The punitive treatment of pubs is founded on inaccurate and ultimately meaningless tracking,” said Wilde.
“Overall, hospitality venues in England have performed exceptionally well during the last few months, with the government’s own data released in September attributing just five per cent of outbreaks to the industry.
“The data did not even identify what percentage was attributed to pubs and bars specifically. And yet, a 10pm curfew was introduced, resulting in approximately a full day’s worth of income lost for business every week and a severe loss of customer confidence.”
He called for urgent support from MPs to help pubs and bars and their direct supply chain.
Wilde called for:
1. Financial grant support, to cover lost revenue during the crisis, allowing us to meet the obligations which are unavoidable, regardless of which Tier we are placed in. We ask for the 80% level of support to continue for 6 months in order to save businesses and jobs. We ask for the level of 80% support for furloughed employees to continue for six months, to protect the lower paid.
2. Removal of Employer’s NI payments, and a contribution towards paying people to work.
3. A VAT rate on beer that means we pay the same in cash terms as a supermarket.
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