Brewery ‘on the verge of breakdown’ as MD pleads with Chancellor for help

Nottingham-based brewery and pub operator Castle Rock has written to Chancellor Rishi Sunak asking him to take “urgent action” to support pubs and bars the city – or face the prospect of thousands of jobs being lost.

Maanging director Colin Wilde says his company – and others in the city – is “on the verge of breakdown” and is pleading with Sunak to provide financial support to cover revenue that has been lost since the Covid-19 pandemic started.

Wilde says the Government should re-introduce the original furlough scheme, whereby 80% of staff wages were covered, for a further six months. The letter also asks for the removal of employers’ National Insurance Payments and a VAT rate on beer that means his company pays the same in cash terms as a supermarket.

The letter comes a week after Nottingham was placed under Tier 2 lockdown conditions whereby different households are advised not to meet indoors or outside.

It reads: “Our own revenues across 22 pubs and a brewery are 50% down, but our costs have gone up. Rent and loan interests still need to be met, and the expense of being Covid-compliant is extensive.

“Castle Rock has been a successful business since 1977 but that is now changing. It is not unrealistic to ask for continued help that will see visible businesses like our through the next stage of the pandemic, whoch will in turn secure our considerable contributions to the economy in the future.

“As a pub group and brewery, operating for nearly 45 years in Nottinghamshire, we are on the verge of breakdown. The entire supply chain is impacted by every unfair restriction placed on pubs, with businesses operating in an array of industries taking a resulting hit, from food suppliers to electricians, to marketing professionals, to breweries like ourselves. The list is long and devastating.”

In March, when the first wave of the pandemic hit, Wilde announced that he was reducing his pay packet to Minimum Wage levels to try and safeguard the jobs of his staff.