For the 15 weeks to 8 November 2020 the pub chain reported that sales in October were “significantly lower” than previous months, following the imposition of a number of new restrictions, including changes in the tier categories, a 10pm curfew and a requirement to order all food and drink at the table.
The business also confirmed that this month 756 pubs in its estate across England and Northern Ireland are closed, leaving only 64 trading pubs in Scotland and 51 in Wales. However, the company has stated that the “extremely onerous tier system” in Scotland is having a “serious effect” on sales.
Last month the chain reported a £105.4m pre-tax loss in the year to 26 July as sales fell due to Covid-19 restrictions, the company’s first loss since 1984.
Chairman Tim Martin said that for any pub or restaurant company trading in different parts of the UK, the “constantly changing” national and local regulations, combined with geographical areas “moving from one tier to another” in different jurisdictions, are “baffling and confusing.”
He added: “The entire regulatory situation is a complete muddle. However, the initial regulations, following reopening, introduced on 4 July, were carefully thought through, followed thorough consultation, and were based on solid scientific foundations of social distancing and hygiene.
“The benefits of the regulatory hyperactivity since then, including the imposition of a curfew, are questionable. A particular anxiety in the hospitality industry relates to the future timescale for the ending of temporary regulations.”