Call to 'get a grip'

BrewDog shuts six bars as Watt demands action

James Watt
James Watt: heart-breaking to close bars

Scottish brewer BrewDog has shut six of its UK bars because of rising costs and co-founder James Watt has urged the UK government to “get a grip”.

wo weeks after opening Britain’s biggest bar in London’s Waterloo he said “reality is biting” and called on Tory leadership rivals Liz Truss or Rishi Sunak to “please stop the charade”.

He revealed on social media that the company had “lots of new openings planned with over 20 locations in construction and planning”, but warned that there were deep-seated problems in the sector that required an immediate response.

“It’s important the success of Waterloo doesn’t blind us all to the reality we as a sector are facing, nor to the sheer ‘rabbit in the headlights’ paralysis of this zombie government, still intent on this bizarre leadership farce, instead of getting to grips with the kind of challenges that will result in more business causalities than the pandemic did,” he said.

“Industry experts estimate that up to a staggering 70% of the UK’s bars, pubs and restaurants could be forced to close due to soaring energy prices and huge cost price increases and unfortunately, we are not exempt from these headwinds.

“Last night we confirmed we were to close six bars around the UK and it is heart-breaking to lose these locations.”

Three of the closed pubs are in Scotland, while another three in London, but said there would be no job losses.

“I warned a few weeks ago, costs are rising to such a degree, with no prospect of any help from a clueless government, that these very difficult decisions have to be made,” he said. “It was going to be simply impossible to get these bars even close to financial viability in the foreseeable future. We had no choice but to close them.

“Due to the strength in other parts of our bar estate, every single person has been offered a role in a separate bar nearby, so there will be no job losses. But I pray this is not a sign of things to come.”

Mr Watt added that “reality in the hospitality space is starting to bite and bite hard. And the government needs to get a grip, now.

“If nothing happens the UK looks set to lose half of its pubs and bars and all the millions of jobs these locations provide, as well as the vital role they play in local communities.”

The government has said it is awaiting confirmation of the new party leader and Prime Minister next week before making policy decisions.

It said the Treasury and Department for Business were preparing “options” for the incoming administration on possible energy market interventions to tackle rising costs.

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