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More than 60 Welsh hospitality businesses call for clarity from Welsh government

12 June 2020 by
More than 60 Welsh hospitality businesses call for clarity from Welsh government

More than 60 Welsh hospitality business owners have signed a letter to first minister Mark Drakeford calling for a clear timescale for reopening.

Chefs including Chris Harrod of the Whitebrook in Monmouthshire, Stephen Terry of the Hardwick in Abergavenny, and Bryn Williams of Odette's and Bryn Williams at Somerset House, as well as Neil Kedward, managing director of the Seren Collection, have signed the letter, which says it is "essential" that Wales follows Scotland in setting out a clear timescale for reopening the sector.

It also calls for the Welsh government to consider reducing physical distancing requirements to one metre, a flexible furlough, intervention on and support with rent, a second year of business rates relief and VAT reform.

It said: "Decisions about redundancy and closure are happening now. To rebuild we will need action in the short and medium term."

The letter points out the restaurant industry in Wales accounts for 135,000 primary and secondary jobs, often in communities where there is very little alternative employment. One in four jobs in Gwynedd, for example, are dependent on restaurants and other hospitality businesses. It also supports the circular economy in sourcing and promoting Welsh food and drink.

The letter continued: "Restaurants are labour intensive with fixed costs and they operate at very slim margins. We survive on our ability to keep trading, often in spite of systems (including tax) which are not designed for us and often do not serve us well. We have experienced decades of upward only rent increases, increased food and beverage costs, hikes in business rates, utilities and insurance. The economic uncertainty from Brexit and austerity has made our trading environment ever more difficult over recent years yet we have, to date, survived.

"We may not be a well understood industry or have been well served or represented by trade bodies in the past, and we have not typically been a sector in receipt of government support or consultation (unlike many other sectors including food production, farming, or manufacturing), or well understood or represented in the media. We are typically small independently owned and run businesses, without the infrastructure of capacity to collaborate as well as we might wish.

"We fear that there is little understanding of the imminent nature of many of the decisions we as businesses are having to take, and the scale of the impact long term damage to the restaurant industry will have on Wales."

Photo: Shutterstock

Welsh hospitality businesses risk losing 40,000 jobs this summer, UKHospitality warns >>

Welsh hospitality asks for six weeks' notice for reopening >>

Scottish hospitality businesses could reopen from 15 July >>

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