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Pub chain hit by Covid

1,300 jobs axed as Mitchells & Butlers slumps to loss

sheep Heid

The chain’s pubs include the Sheep Heid at Duddingston (pic: Terry Murden)

Pub and bar operator Mitchells & Butlers has revealed that 1,300 staff have been made redundant as the COVID-19 crisis bites.

The group behind chains including Harvester, All Bar One and Toby Carvery, as well as historic pubs such as the Sheep Heid at Duddingston, made the announcement as it posted a loss before tax of £123 million for the year to the end of September against a profit of £177m last time. Total revenue came in 34.1% lower at £1.475bn (FY 2019: £2.237bn).

The company employs 44,000 staff and 99% of its workforce was furloughed during lockdown earlier this year.

Phil Urban, chief executive, said: “Throughout a very uncertain and challenging year our businesses and teams have adapted quickly, creating a safe environment for guests and putting us in a strong position to benefit when consumers are able to eat out again. We saw direct evidence of this from a strong trading period in July and August before further restrictions came into force.

“We remain optimistic that we will be able to regain the momentum previously built and continue to achieve sustained market outperformance, when the current operating restrictions are eased.”

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The announcement came as pubs and restaurants warned that being placed in tougher tier restrictions would likely put many out of business.

Boris Johnson also faces a potential backbench rebellion after putting most of England – or 55m people – in the two toughest levels of Covid measures when the lockdown ends next week.

In a letter to the Prime Minister from more than 50 pub and brewing businesses they say the industry is being “scapegoated” by latest restrictions.

It claims the sector, employing hundreds of thousands of people, faces “exceptionally harsh and unjustified treatment” with tight rules in place especially for drink-led pubs despite people being allowed to mix in homes over Christmas.

The letter calls for evidence justifying the measures to be published and for grants of up to £12,000 each to be given to pubs to help them survive.

The redundancies at Mitchells & Butlers add to a growing number of job cuts made by pub chains since restrictions were imposed.

Greene King is axeing 800 jobs and closing 79 pubs, and Marston’s said 2,150 staff were at risk of being made redundant or facing fewer hours. Wetherspoon is cutting up to 450 jobs.

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