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Late-night operators facing 'very difficult decisions' over future

16 September 2020 by

Night-time industry leaders have warned the sector could see "huge swathes" of businesses close and thousands of jobs lost without further government support as redundancy consultations are launched.

The late-night economy still has no set reopening date and is facing an uncertain future after the furlough scheme comes to an end on 31 October.

Deltic Group, which runs 53 clubs and late-night bars across the UK, has launched a consultation to cut 400 jobs and warned more could be lost without further help.

Peter Marks, CEO of Deltic, told The Caterer: "Deltic had a survival plan that took us through to September, a couple of months after much of hospitality was opened. We remain in the dark over our future but cannot carry on for much longer without an opening date and potentially significant financial support dependent upon the significance of covid-secure operating required.

"Having held off any redundancies until September it is sad that we are having to cut our staff by over 400, and should there be no further developments in either an opening date or financial support, we could see many more job losses, which conversely will make it harder for us to reopen when we do get a date."

A recent survey by the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA), which represents 1,200 bars, clubs, casinos and music venues, found more than 80% of its members will have to lay off staff when the furlough scheme ends.

Michael Kill, CEO of the NTIA, said the job retention scheme had been a "lifeline" to thousands of late-night businesses.

He said: "Without further government support, we will see huge swathes of businesses lost and an estimated 700,000 jobs lost from the Night Time Economy.

"The subsequent wind down of furlough, and contributions of 10% / 20% across September and October has meant that many businesses who have been unable to open, now have to make some very difficult decisions about the future of the business and the workforce."

Nearly 27,000 of Britain's licensed premises, a quarter of the overall number, remained closed at the end of August, according to the latest Market Recovery Monitor from CGA and AlixPartners.

This included one third of bars and just under half of licensed sports and social club venues.

Earlier this month night-time industry leaders met with government representatives to discuss a recovery plan for the sector, but specific support has yet to be announced.

Recent government restrictions banning social gatherings of more than six people also present a challenge to operators.

Graeme Smith, managing director at AlixPartners, said: "In particular for businesses that rely on larger groups gathering socially such as wet-led and late night venues, [the rule of six] creates an additional headwind.

"The next few weeks will prove critical and start to highlight those businesses strong enough to ride out the storm."

Picture: Shutterstock

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