More operators have come forward claiming they have also been turned down by British Gas as industry customers are considered too high risk.
Chef Mark Poynton bought his new site Restaurant MJP in Cambridge in June, and applied for an account with British Gas as the outgoing landlord had also held an account with the group.
Poynton said he had signed a contract with the supplier, but the next day the company told him "we're not doing hospitality any more, you need to find a different supplier". He was told the company is "not dealing with hospitality in the current climate".
Although Poynton managed to find an alternative, while he was searching for another supplier, British Gas put him on its ‘out of contract rate', which he estimates was 40% higher than the rate he would have been on under the contract.
Meanwhile, Markus Hodson, owner of the King & Queen in Longcot, Oxfordshire, said he was also turned down by British Gas when he took on the venue in August and was told it is "not supplying to the pubs trade".
Due to various issues with different utilities suppliers, his business lost two weeks' worth of trade as its reopening was delayed.
"We just shook our heads in despair," he said. "It adds to the to-do list, which you just haven't got time for, because it's all hands on deck trying to make a success of what we can."
A spokesperson for British Gas said the businesses "did not pass our vetting process". They said the company is taking on new businesses in the hospitality industry, but businesses will be subject to credit vetting processes.
The spokesperson said: "British Gas has over 4,000 bar and restaurant customers, many of which have looked to us for additional support over the course of the Covid crisis. We know this has been an extremely tough time for the industry and we have been offering additional support to our existing customers. We are now taking on acquisitions, new customer sales for bars and restaurants, and any new customers will be subject to our normal business credit vetting process."
The Catererreported last week that British Gas told Asma Khan, owner of Darjeeling Express in London's Covent Garden, that it was not opening new accounts for restaurants until March 2021. British Gas owner Centrica responded that it was not the company's policy to apply a blanket ban on new restaurant accounts and that information to set up an account was not provided.
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