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UK pubs may stay shut until JULY, brewery boss hints

Punters hoping to sink a pint in a pub from next month have had their hopes dashed as it was claimed bars and beer gardens could be closed until July.

Ralph Findlay, chief executive of brewing giant Marston’s, said any move to reopen establishments was at least five weeks off.

It will come as a fresh blow to drinkers who were told by the government watering holes could be open from June 1.

Premises have been allowed to operate takeaway services during the lockdown to try to keep businesses afloat.

Staff have been wearing personal protective equipment and ensuring customers are two metres apart in queues.

Ralph Findlay (pictured), chief executive of brewing giant Marston's, said any move to reopen establishments was at least five weeks off

Ralph Findlay (pictured), chief executive of brewing giant Marston's, said any move to reopen establishments was at least five weeks off

Ralph Findlay (pictured), chief executive of brewing giant Marston’s, said any move to reopen establishments was at least five weeks off

Mr Findlay told Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘We are desperate to know when we are going to be able to reopen our pubs as well.

‘We have had an indication from the government that the target date for some sort of reopening is early July.

‘It’s not clear at this point under what circumstances we’d be allowed to open, in terms of social distancing or what other restrictions might be in place.

Some landlords have tried to survive the pandemic by offering a takeaway service (pictured in London)

Some landlords have tried to survive the pandemic by offering a takeaway service (pictured in London)

Some landlords have tried to survive the pandemic by offering a takeaway service (pictured in London)

‘So I think there’s a lot of work still to do to understand that at the moment and the economic consequences of whatever restrictions are still in place.

‘But early July would look at this point to be the soonest that we’ll see pubs opening in this country.’

People may be able to buy drinks from pubs at market-style stalls from June 1 as ministers look to relax outdoor seating licences from July.

But places that do not have external space may be forced to stay shut for longer and will have to fork out £300 for a licence.

The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) said pubs would have been packed on a normal late May Bank Holiday, with good weather forecast, and the FA Cup final usually held on the Saturday.

The trade body noted pubs were the first businesses to be ordered to shut down by the Government in March and could be among the last to re-open.

The BBPA said not all premises will reopen from July as many will not be able to meet the social distancing measures required by then.

Ensuring a distance of two metres will be impossible for some pubs, keeping them closed for much longer, said the BBPA.

Chief executive Emma McClarkin said: ‘This bank holiday weekend would usually bring a much-needed boost to our sector – as many as 10 million extra pints could have been sold in pubs.

‘With such good weather, Brits would normally flock to their local pub beer garden to make the most of the sunshine.

‘The FA Cup final, which would have taken place this weekend, would have boosted pub beer sales by two million pints on Saturday alone.

‘Those pubs with beer gardens and outside terraces are best placed to meet social distancing restrictions to open from July 4.

There is widespread panic in the already-struggling industry, with some of the 48,349 pubs in the country expected to never reopen (pictured in Southend)

There is widespread panic in the already-struggling industry, with some of the 48,349 pubs in the country expected to never reopen (pictured in Southend)

There is widespread panic in the already-struggling industry, with some of the 48,349 pubs in the country expected to never reopen (pictured in Southend)

‘We welcome the idea of an additional bank holiday in October and support any Government help to boost the speed of recovery of pubs and breweries.’

There is widespread panic in the already-struggling industry, with some of the 48,349 pubs in the country expected to never reopen.

Over the bank holiday weekend thousands of Britons have descended on beauty spots and beaches to sip pints and bask in the warm weather. 

Marston’s is planning on joining with Carlsberg’s UK arm to form a joint venture worth around £780million.

The move, which is the latest in a string of deals involving UK brewers, will create the Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company.

It has valued Marston’s brewing business at £580million, with Carlsberg’s UK brewing division valued at £200million.

Marston's is planning on joining with Carlsberg's UK arm to form a joint venture worth around £780million

Marston's is planning on joining with Carlsberg's UK arm to form a joint venture worth around £780million

Marston’s is planning on joining with Carlsberg’s UK arm to form a joint venture worth around £780million

Marston’s said it will own a 40 per cent stake in the joint venture and will now focus on its pub and accommodation business.

The companies said talks over the move started towards the end of 2019 and hope to seal the deal in the third quarter of 2020.

Mr Findlay said the deal was a ‘sign of confidence’ in the long-term future of the UK brewing sector.

He said: ‘It’s clearly a very difficult time right now for brewery and pub operators. We know that things will remain uncertain over the next few months, but we are confident that this strengthens our position in the long term.’

He added it is ‘too early’ to say whether jobs will be impacted but said the financial boost from the deal will ‘bring much-needed stability’.

He also reassured drinkers beer ‘recipes will not be changed’ in response to the move, stressing the appeal of its core brands including Hobgoblin, Wainwright and Pedigree.

Tomasz Blawat, managing director of Carlsberg UK, said the ‘strong heritage’ of both firms made the venture logical.

He said: ‘I believe in having a strong balance of international brands and local brands. The deal complements this perfectly.

‘I wish this was all happening in a different set of circumstances but things have substantially changed since we first had conversations last year.

‘We were well into discussions when the coronavirus crisis kicked in and we were left facing the choice of whether to continue, but we have a very long-term view.’

Source: Daily Mail – Articles

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