One of the largest UK restaurant, pub, and bar owners — Mitchells & Butlers (MAB.L) — said sales cratered by 35% in the 51 weeks ending 19 September 2020.
The owner of famous UK brands, such as Harvester, Toby Carvery, and All Bar One, said in a pre-close trading update that while the government funded Eat Out to Help Out scheme plus a temporary reduction in the rate of VAT helped to return like-for-like sales growth of 1.4%, the whole year was significantly hit by the prolonged lockdown period.
“After a difficult period of closure, we have been delighted to welcome back our guests with the vast majority of our sites open and trading again under COVID-secure procedures. I am particularly impressed by the way in which our teams have made this possible by responding to the challenge of our new operating environment with energy and enthusiasm,” said Phil Urban, CEO of Mitchells & Butlers.
“The future remains both challenging and uncertain, with only this week a curfew and other additional restrictions being imposed on how and when we can operate. However, we believe we are well placed to meet that challenge and to keep Mitchells & Butlers at the forefront of the eating and drinking-out market.”
Britain’s pub industry has been suffering since the spread of the coronavirus pandemic has led to lockdowns and severe restrictions on health and safety measures as well as operating terms.
Adnams brewery CEO Andy Wood said earlier this week that the pub industry was still “on life support” with about 900,000 jobs at risk. Meanwhile, the CEO of pub chain JD Wetherspoon (JDW.L) also announced this week that up to 450 jobs are at risk at a number of airports across the UK.
The sector is set to be hit further after the UK government implemented a range of new measures to try and stop the spread of coronavirus, in particular, that pubs, bars and restaurants will have to close at 10pm local time.