Pub group to call time on more than 2,000 jobs

Marstons is to cut 2,150 jobs in its pubs as the first move in a wave of winter cost-cutting.

The Wolverhampton-based group has nearly 1,400 pubs across the country and although 99% of them had reopened after lockdown, the latest phase of pub closures and operating restrictions will be another blow.

Marstons chief executive Ralph Findlay said that “inevitably, and regrettably, recent restrictions will impact jobs”.

Pubs across the UK face a range of restrictions, from curfews and reduced capacity to enforced table service, as part of the public health measures to reduce the spread of Covid-19.

Ralph Findlay, chief executive of Marstons

Findlay said: “The introduction of these further restrictions and guidance affecting pubs is hugely disappointing in view of a lack of clear evidence tying pubs to the recent increase in infection levels, and our own data which suggests that pubs are effective in minimising risks.

“Very few incidences of COVID-19 infection have been reported in our pubs by employees or guests to date, supporting our view that socialising in pubs, where social distancing is enforced and hygiene standards are high, presents lower risks than in other non-regulated settings.”

The group has reported post-lockdown trading as being “better than our forecast, ahead of the market and a highly creditable result”.

Since re-opening its managed and franchised like-for-like sales averaged 90% of last year over the 13-week period to October 3. Its performance was helped by the Government’s Eat Out To Help Out scheme, the reduction in VAT, and the location of its pubs. It has large numbers of pubs in surburbs and communities, and only three in central London.

Findlay said: “On re-opening, we set ourselves three objectives: for pubs to be safe for our guests and our people, to retain pub ambience, and for our pubs to be financially viable. I believe we have met those objectives.”

While 10,000 staff have returned to work, it said around 2,150 jobs “currently subject to furlough are going to be impacted”.

The group is also working on a full review of its costs that it will complete by the end of the year.

Findlay added: “These decisions are difficult but are necessary due to the restrictions placed upon our business at this time.”

It is investing £2m in “Inside-Out” schemes, including heated and weather-proofed structures to extend the use of outdoor space into the winter months, which will provide additional capacity of around 15,000 covers.