Clive Watson, the owner of The City Pub Company, has said that the Government’s ‘Plan B’ work from home guidance is “turning off the life support machine yet again” for the hospitably industry, and will negatively impact the trade of businesses located in city centres due to the lack of commuters. Watson also noted how vital the Christmas period is to hospitality firms, mentioning that his company brings in a third of its annual profits during December, which helps it stay afloat during the quiet months of the year when there is less demand. BBC News has the story.
Hospitality firms have warned they face a collapse in demand at their busiest time of year due to the Government’s new work-from-home guidance.
The measures, designed to slow the spread of the highly transmissible Omicron variant, come in from Monday.
One trade body called them a “body blow” to already-struggling pubs, restaurants and entertainment venues.
Pub chain boss Clive Watson said some pubs could “run out of cash” without extra help from the Government.
However, the Government is not planning any new economic support measures.
Watson said the City Pub Company, which has 44 sites in England and Wales, was just starting to get back on its feet after a rough 18 months.
But he said the Government was “turning off the life support machine yet again” by bringing back home-working.
“From about 10 days ago office parties started to get cancelled [because of Omicron]. Going forward after yesterday’s announcement that is only going to accelerate,” he told the BBC’s Today programme.
“What Government has got to appreciate is for businesses, particularly in our sector, Christmas is always a key time.”
The City Pub Company makes about a third of its annual profits in December, which tides it over in the quiet months of January and February.
Hospitality firms fear losing vital passing trade as more people work from home. Businesses from dry cleaners to coffee houses depend on an office crowd, particularly in city centres.
By contrast, those that cater to people in their homes, such as takeaways and supermarkets stand to gain from the new guidance.
We talked to firms that rely on commuters about how the new home-working guidance will affect them.
David Abrahamovitch runs Grind, a chain of nine café restaurants in London, employing 250 staff. He also has a successful online store selling compostable coffee pods for Nespresso machines, and says he can “fall back” on that side of the business if things get tough.
“A lot of other hospitality businesses won’t have that, so we’re lucky,” he told the BBC. “But it will still be painful to watch the company go into reverse gear again.”
Grind relies on people coming into central London and has also has seen a big drop-off in Christmas party bookings since Omicron emerged, which Abrahamovitch thinks will get worse.
He is nervous about how the landlords he rents his shops from will react if things really slow down.
Worth reading in full.