Food and Drink

Over 7,000 licensed premises still in ‘limbo’, CGA warns

The monitor found that just under 5,000 of Britain’s licensed premises opened their doors again in July to bring the sector to more than nine-tenths of its capacity

Over 7,000 licensed premises still remain in “limbo” either planning their restart, are waiting for trading conditions to improve, or will permanently remain closed, according to the latest Market Recovery Monitor from CGA and AlixPartners.

The monitor found that just under 5,000 of Britain’s licensed premises opened their doors again in July to bring the sector to more than nine-tenths of its capacity.

The wave of re-openings was partly triggered by “Freedom Day” in England on 19 July, which allowed many venues, especially nightclubs and late-night bars, to trade for the first time since March 2020. Across Britain, 98,790 licensed premises were open by the end of July.

Managed restaurant, pub and bar groups are meanwhile returning at a faster pace than independents. Some 98.7% of managed sites are now open which was significantly higher than the 89.9% of independently-run venues.

Karl Chessell, business unit director for hospitality operators and food, EMEA, CGA, said: “Trading numbers are now at their highest point since Covid-19 hit, and a modest but steady flow of new venues suggest that the worst of the crisis may now be behind us.

“However, with so many sites yet to reopen, more business failures are inevitable. Thousands of businesses remain vulnerable, and their future will now depend on how well they can overcome major challenges such as the high debt levels many have.”

Graeme Smith, managing director, AlixPartners, said: “Over 7,000 sites remain in limbo and the question now must be whether these venues will ever reopen under their current ownership or be lost permanently.

“The well-publicised challenges in the market around labour and product supply only add to a complex picture during what should be peak trading season, with operators across the country taking drastic action through reducing their hours or closing as a direct consequence of these issues.”

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