Greene King boss: Tier 2 restrictions 'closure in all but name' for pubs

18 October 2020, 13:27

By Joe Cook

The Chief Executive of Greene King has told LBC’s Swarbrick on Sunday that Tier 2 restrictions mean “closure in all but name” for pubs.

Speaking to Tom, Nick Mackenzie called for Chancellor Rishi Sunak to offer the same furlough and business support available for pubs in Tier 3, to hospitality venues in Tier 2 areas.

London, Essex, Elmbridge, Barrow-in-Furness, York, North East Derbyshire, Erewash and Chesterfield are all currently under the second tier of measures, which ban household mixing indoors.

Read more: Greene King 'to close 25 pubs for good putting 800 jobs at risk'

“The restrictions that the Tier 2 pubs are being put into is a closure in all but name,” Mr Mackenzie, head of the UK's largest pub retailer and brewer, said.

“Some pubs are 80 percent down year-on-year and that is just not viable. The effect of this is closure and therefore the support we need is absolutely critical to be able to save jobs.

He added: “The support we are getting in Tier 2 is simply not enough, we need the Tier 3 support to apply to Tier 2 and we need that to happen quickly.

“The Chancellor needs to look at this, I think in the early part of next week, and make some sort of announcement, because the impact on trade is severe and we know furlough in its current form runs out on 31 October.”

The boss of the Greene King chain, which has already permanently closed 25 pubs, warned “hundreds of thousands of jobs are at risk” across the sector.

“The impact in the city centers, particularly in central London, has been extremely challenging,” he told LBC.

Pub chain Marston's have also announced plans to cut around 2,150 workers, many of whom are currently on furlough support.

Ralph Findlay, chief executive of Marston's, said: "The additional restrictions which have been applied across the UK most recently present significant challenges to us and will make business more difficult for a period of time."

On Thursday, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan sent a letter to the Prime Minister calling for more support for London's businesses and writing that he was "very concerned about the impact of Tier 2 on the hospitality sector".

Asked by Tom whether he was surprised the Mayor had not held out on agreeing to higher restrictions without more government money for businesses in the capital, Mr Mackenzie said: “Look I don’t want to get caught in the politics of this, but I am surprised with the limited amount of support London pubs and London businesses, particularly, have had during this crisis.

Read more: 'It's not practical': London's hospitality workers unsure how to enforce Tier 2 rules

He added: “You can see if you go into London regularly, like I do, the impact of the lack of tourists in the area, the lack of office workers and I think we need to focus on, once we come to the other side, is how do we get people into London and back into our businesses.

The pub sector, the hospitality sector, is brilliant at creating jobs and that is what we are going to need when we come out on the other side of this.”