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Month: March 2021

Reservations in Manchester all but vanish as businesses are flooded with April bookings

A recent report in the Manchester Evening News stated the people are ‘biting our arm off’ for a table as demand has outstripped that during the governments ‘Eat Out To Help Out’ scheme last year. In less than two weeks’ time, if the road map goes according to plan, pubs and restaurants will be allowed to reopen their outside spaces.

For hospitality businesses in Grater Manchester, it will be the first time they’ve been able to have customers back since November. It’s the longest period of time that most have been closed since the pandemic started, due to last year’s ‘tier system’ forcing closure even before the current national lockdown started. With many places already booked throughout April and well into May, local operators say they have been ‘blown away’ by the number of bookings. The demand is so great that anyone wanting to visit 20 Stories restaurant/cocktail bar in Spinningfields, for example, on a Saturday night will have to wait till mid-June.

Despite the restrictions in place – and the unpredictable Mancunian weather, table reservations at most city centre venues have disappeared throughout April.

Tim Reynolds is director of operations at Kimpton Clocktower Hotel, which is home to The Refuge restaurant. He said: “We opened bookings Monday 15th March at 7pm and I would say it was chaos. It’s a lot busier than we expected and there’s a lot more enthusiasm than we expected”.

He continued, “I think if you want to come on a Tuesday in the first week of May, you might have a chance. It’s absolutely chocka for the first few weeks. It shows a huge amount of confidence in what we do and a huge amount of people wanting to get back to normal and wanting to support restaurants and bars. It’s really encouraging.”

Hospitality operators also say that people “are biting our arms off” to get even mid-week, mid-afternoon slots, with people even taking time off work to return to the pub for a pint.

Sadly, not all businesses in Manchester will reopen on 12th April as many have decided to close for good. Burdened with debt, rent arrears, tax liabilities and no income for over 4 months many have decided to throw in the towel.

Hospitality Rescue has been helping struggling business owners for over 20 years with sensible FREE advice. If your hospitality business is experiencing problems, contact us FREE on 0800 9700539. Chat to one of our experienced advisers and we will see how we can help you!

Written by Luke Harris

Table decorated with glass vase with fresh flowers and cup of drink located in outside cafeteria in daytime

Over 41,000 hospitality venues prepare outdoor space for April 12th reopening

beer gardenMore than 41,000 pubs, bars and restaurants have sufficient outdoor space to enable them to reopen in 2 weeks’ time. In the latest monthly market recovery report, by CGA and AlixPartners, figures show that 38.2% of licensed premises in the UK say that they have space outdoors which will allow them to trade when lockdown rules are eased on the 12th April.

Many businesses have stated that they are planning to utilise gardens, terraces and even car parks to potentially seat guests to reopen when al fresco hospitality is given the green light to go ahead by the Prime Minister. However, the number of operators able to operate outside varies drastically depending on their specific area of hospitality.

The report said that more than 80% of community pubs have appropriate outdoor space to reopen, whereas only 11.9% of casual dining restaurants have such space, meaning further damage to many chains which have been hit hard in the past year.

The report also showed that most sites with outdoor space will still be unlikely to trade from mid-April due to limitations to their space and cost of outdoor equipment or staffing them as it will be unprofitable. With south-west England having the best placed chance of survival with 51.1% of premises having outdoor spaces. Meanwhile, only 33.1% of operators in London have outdoor spaces they can use and only 22.9% of venues in Scotland will reopen from April 26 for outdoor areas.

Karl Chessell, business unit director for hospitality operators and food at CGA, said: “With huge pent-up demand for hospitality and consumers’ confidence rising, outside trading could give sales a useful kickstart – but there are a lot of variables at play. Pubs with beer gardens will be popular if the sun shines, but some restaurants may find it harder to recoup the costs of reopening, especially if the April weather isn’t favourable”. Mr Chessell added, “well over half of licensed premises have no space at all in which to trade, though they could yet reopen in April if local authorities take a proactive approach and open up street space for them to serve on”.

Hospitality Rescue has been helping struggling business owners for over 20 years with sensible FREE advice. If your hospitality business is experiencing problems, contact us FREE on 0800 9700539. Chat to one of our experienced advisers and we will see how we can help you!

Cap on business rates relief will jeopardise the industry’s recovery says UKHospitality

UKHospitality has warned that a cap on the amount of business rates relief that can be claimed by operators in England, could destroy the future of hospitality venues after they reopen. The 100% rates holiday has been extended until June by the chancellor however, businesses will have to pay two-thirds of their business rates bills for the remaining nine months of the financial year. On top of that, a £2 million cap on the relief available to businesses will mean a large proportion of the hospitality industry will be unable to make use of this discount.

UKHospitality has estimated that this will mean almost 8,000 businesses, which employ about 343,000 people will be paying full rates from July. A further 1,850 sites face the same issue before October. The cap will typically affect businesses with large sites, multiple venues or those paying high rents in areas such as city centres and on high streets.

Wales and Scotland have both extended their businesses holiday rates for retail, leisure and hospitality businesses for a further 12 months, making operators question the policy in England. UKHospitality is calling for the treasury to extend the 100% uncapped rates relief for a further three months beyond June, with a 50% discount for the remainder of the year.

“July is simply too early for businesses to be expected to start repaying rates after a devastating year of closure, restrictions and accumulation of debt,” said UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls. “Hospitality stands ready to play its part in creating new jobs and boosting our communities across the country, but this policy risks strangling the recovery in its infancy.”

If you’re hospitality business can see a cashflow crisis looming, we can probably help. If you’d like to download a free copy of our cashflow forecast template you can do so HERE

Hospitality Rescue has been helping struggling business owners for over 20 years with sensible FREE advice. If your hospitality business is experiencing problems, contact us FREE on 0800 9700539. Chat to one of our experienced advisers and we will see how we can help you!

London Mayor investing £6 million to support re-opening of London’s economy.

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has announced that £6million will be invested directly to supporting the re-opening of London’s economy once the COVID restrictions are lifted. This comes as a new report was released this week with details of the full extent of the challenges facing London’s economy.

Sadiq Khan has announced that in his mayoral budget there will be a new investment of £5million to support the eventual reopening of central London, including a brand new campaign to attract tourists and visitors back to London later this year. Through this LEAP (London Economic Action Partnership) a further £1million will now be spent on attracting people from all over the UK to visit the capital post-lockdown, vital for the much needed recovery of hard hit hospitality and cultural venues.

The investment comes as the Mayor publishes a final report conducted by Arup with Gerald Eve and the London School of Economics showing the future challenges and opportunities facing CAZ (London’s Central Activities Zone), which has seen a huge reduction in footfall due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a part of the Mayors continuation of work, Sadiq has announced that London is joining forces with three other cities Berlin, Paris and New York to bring forward innovation that will speed up the reveal of central London and bring back businesses that were hit hard during the pandemic.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “Central London is the engine of the UK’s economy. There simply won’t be a national economic recovery from COVID unless all levels of Government realise the crucial importance of protecting central London’s unique eco-system of shops, hospitality and world-leading cultural venues. That’s why I’m investing £6million directly in attracting people back into London once COVID restrictions are lifted”.

If you have a travel, hospitality or leisure business in London are in financial difficulties we can probably help.

Pubs and Restaurants scramble to create outdoor space

The UK government has allowed the reopening of al fresco dining in just three weeks’ time, on Monday April 12th. This has prompted a scramble for pubs and restaurants to create outdoor seating space, with restaurant and pub operators desperate to claw back revenues lost during lockdown.

Hospitality businesses up and down the country are planning to open terraces or expand on to pavement areas after ministers ruled that restaurants and pubs could serve customers ‘outside only’ in the first instance when they are allowed to open again on 12th April.

Last week pub company Punch said that it was investing an additional £1m in outdoor space, while landlord Cadogan, which owns large parts of Chelsea and Kensington, said that it was adding 500 seats to newly pedestrianised streets in the area. While some hospitality businesses are reporting higher demand for outdoor tables than when they reopened in July last year.

The River Cafe in London said it was almost fully booked for April with just a few weekday lunchtime slots available, while D&D, which runs 38 restaurants in London, Manchester and Leeds, said it planned to open the terraces at 20 of its sites amounting to around 1,100 places per sitting. It had already received 60,000 bookings up to the first week in May.

“We are well over double the number of bookings ahead of opening compared with when we opened last year, and last year we had the whole restaurant to book” said D&D chief executive Des Gunewardena. But, he added, the cost of reopening was in the “hundreds of thousands”.

The hospitality sector is versatile and creative, and many sites have already, or are currently erecting semi-permanent outdoor structures like awnings, canopies and marquees to cater for as many customers as possible when they finally reopen. The mood is positive and the sector should benefit from improved weather for the Spring re-openings, but all these changes come at an additional cost when the sector already has significant cashflow pressures.

Company Rescue has been helping struggling business owners for over 20 years with sensible FREE advice. If your hospitality business is experiencing problems, contact us FREE on 0800 9700539. Chat to one of our experienced advisers and we will see how we can help you!

Written by Luke Harris

Manchester pubs contribute to Stonegate’s £746m losses

The UK’s largest pub company Stonegate has revealed that the enforced closure of its sites has yielded a £746m loss and forced it to go to investors and debt markets for £1.4bn of additional funding. The Financial Times (FT) has also warned a further lockdown would force it to consider more debt or selling assets.

The operator of more than 4,700 pubs under brands such as Slug and Lettuce, Craft Union, Proper Pubs, Yates and Classic Inns expects normal trading to return from July. Pubs suffering losses are understood to include The Lost Dene, Be At One and The Slug & Lettuce, all in Deansgate along with other Manchester city pubs including The Ark in Whitworth St. West and The Town Hall Tavern in Tibb Lane.

The group recorded the multi-million pound loss largely due to estate depreciation and costs stemming from its £1.27bn acquisition of Ei Group in March 2020 – which made Stonegate the largest pub operator in the UK. The pub company, which employs some 17,000 people, comprises an estate of 1,270 managed division sites and 3,200 leased and tenanted venues across the UK.

Stonegate’s published accounts on Companies House reveal the operator’s revenue fell by 17% to £707m in the year to the end of September 2020. The same period in which Britain’s pubs were shuttered between March and July, saw Stonegate slash costs and benefits from £70m in state support – comprising £62m from the furlough scheme, £4m from the government backed Eat Out to Help out initiative in August, and a £3m boost from business rates relief, according to the FT.

A pub company this size is better able to weather the covid financial storm than other smaller competitors. Many smaller pub-co chains and independent pubs may not reopen due to the dramatic financial impact of the Covid crisis.

If you run a small chain of pubs or are an independent publican and you’re struggling to pay rent, suppliers and the taxman we can usually help.

Company Rescue has been helping struggling business owners for over 20 years with sensible FREE advice. If your hospitality business is experiencing problems, contact us FREE on 0800 9700539. Chat to one of our experienced advisers and we will see how we can help you!

Manchester Food and Drink Festival has been confirmed to make its big return in 2021

The Manchester Food and Drink festival has been confirmed to make its big return in 2021, after having been postponed twice. The huge celebration of the region’s food and drink will once again be returning to the city’s cathedral gardens this autumn.

This popular festival will be centred around the free-to-enter Festival Hub, where tables can be booked in advance. Although the exact line-up has yet to be announced, last year’s festival plans had included a ‘feasting quarter’ of street food, kitchen takeovers, a live music stage and bar.

The festival is placed over 12 days this year, with the event taking place from Thurs. 16th Sept to Mon. 27th Sept., culminating with the MFDF awards. These awards recognise the best in the region’s hospitality industry and will be handed out at a Gala Dinner on Monday September 27. The glittering ceremony will move to Manchester Hall for the first time, promising to be a ‘hospitality homecoming’.

MFDF 2021 hopes to be able to support the recovery of the region’s dining and drinking economies by showcasing and celebrating as many businesses as it can as possible, however, only a limited number of bookable tables are available, with a reservation free of £5.

Alexa Stratton-Powell, festival director commented: “This year’s festival is about celebration, reflection and recovery. It has been an extraordinarily difficult time for the hospitality industry, and so too for the festival and all the events companies and professionals around the country.

“Postponing last year’s MFDF was a very difficult decision, but the right one.

“This year we’ll come together to do what Manchester does best – support each other and our city.

Andrew Kenny, UK MD of Just Eat, headline sponsor of the event, said: “We’re delighted that the plans for MFDF have been finalised and we can share the good news. We are really looking forward to celebrating with our customers, our local restaurant partners and the whole of Manchester at MFDF this September.”

Sadly, many hospitality businesses are unlikely to be at the event as the sector continues to suffer because of Covid lockdown restrictions. Premises with outdoor facilities can hopefully reopen on 12th April but many are still having to address legacy debts, unpaid rent and HMRC tax arrears.

Company Rescue has been helping struggling business owners for over 20 years with sensible FREE advice. Our newly appointed regional manager for Manchester, Adrian Ohio is ready and waiting to assist. If your business is experiencing problems, contact us FREE on 08009700539. Chat to one of our experienced advisers and we will see how we can help you!

UK ‘Staycation’ boom predicted!

After recent news that British residents arriving in England from COVID hotspots will have to quarantine in hotels, many would-be holiday makers are thinking of opting for UK holiday destinations this summer. Understandable in the circumstances, as many people don’t want to undergo the ‘managed isolation process’ that requires you to spend 10 days in an isolation hotel upon your return to the UK.

However, there may be a huge shortage of the kind of UK accommodation Brits are looking for, say providers of holiday lets from cottages to campsites. Demand is on the increase and even the UK’s luxury hotels are expecting the move to give them a boost.

Sarah and Steve Jarvis, who run the independent cottages website listing more than 1,800 properties, say inquiries during the current lockdown in England are 300% up on the first lockdown in March to July 2020.

However, they also point out that many properties still need to honour bookings that were rolled over from 2020 because of earlier virus curbs, restricting availability for new requests.

“People started the year with bookings already in the calendar”, Sarah told the BBC. “We’re going to end up in a situation where we have demand outstripping supply again.”

“It’s almost like the perfect storm,” adds Steve. “People will be hesitant about going abroad with the new travel restrictions and the UK is looking like a very good option. People have got confidence in UK self-catering holidays, because the bookings are coming in thick and fast.”

All in all, this increase in demand will undoubtedly boost the UK’s hospitality sector one of the hardest hit during the Coronavirus pandemic. Meaning an even bigger increase in the usage of pubs and restaurants in surrounding areas of these holiday destinations that are hoping to be fully open after the 17th May just in time for the summer season to begin.

Hospitality Rescue has been helping struggling business owners for over 20 years with sensible FREE advice. If your hospitality business is experiencing problems, contact us FREE on 0800 9700539. Chat to one of our experienced advisers and we will see how we can help you!

No plans for another ‘Eat Out To Help Out’ scheme.

Recent reports suggested that Rishi Sunak was considering a reintroduction of the popular ‘Eat Out To Help Out’ scheme to the hospitality sector when pubs and restaurants are able to re-open, hopefully from 12th April. The scheme which ran through August last year gave diners 50% off their food bill up to £10 on certain weekdays. Food and non-alcoholic drinks were included but the scheme excluded alcohol.

However, it appears the Chancellor has had a change of heart. Speaking at a recent treasury select committee meeting he said that there were currently no plans to bring back the scheme because high streets will “spring back” after lockdown. He continued that he felt that families were keen to go on a spending spree having saved an estimated £180bn during lockdown and that discount enticements would not be necessary.

He told MP’s there was a huge pent-up demand ready to explode once lockdown restrictions ease and that consumers would be more confident to spend this time round saying “there was an enormous worry when things reopened last year that people wouldn’t have the confidence to spend even though they had the income to”.

Hospitality Rescue has been helping struggling business owners for over 20 years with sensible FREE advice. If your hospitality business is experiencing problems, contact us FREE on 0800 9700539. Chat to one of our experienced advisers and we will see how we can help you!

Over 150 London pubs, bars and restaurants closed in 2020

The latest figures show that the coronavirus pandemic continues to wreak havoc on the hospitality sector as more than 150 pubs, bars and restaurants in London closed permanently last year with the number of licensed premises in the capital shrinking 4.5 percent in December compared to 2019. That represented a drop from 3,460 venues down to 3,303, meaning 157 sites closed their doors for good between Christmas 2019 and the end of last year. 

Birmingham and Leeds were the only other major British cities to suffer a larger percentage drop than the capital. With Birmingham losing 8.5 percent while Leeds losing 5.6 percent of sites, respectively.

In total 5,975 licensed premises closed their doors last year across Britain according to the latest research by data analysts CGA and consulting firm AlixPartners. Closures are close to triple the 2,171 recorded in 2019, highlighting the massive impact the pandemic and restrictions have had on trading within the hospitality sector.

Experts had warned that the restrictions put in place throughout December will “undoubtedly have caused more business failures” (in early 2021). The question many are asking is  “Yes, but how many?”.

“Businesses, their funders, landlords and other stakeholders urgently need certainty and a roadmap to reopening” AlixPartners director Graeme Smith said. He added “the rapid rollout of the vaccine offers hope, but with restrictions unlikely to be lifted until Easter at the earliest, the coming months will likely see more sites lost for good”.

Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, urged the government to back the industry. She said, “Given this latest evidence showing how the Covid crisis and lockdown is ripping pubs away from their communities for good, it is more important than ever that the government backs our local pubs and brewers”.

Hospitality Rescue has been helping struggling business owners for over 20 years with sensible FREE advice. If your hospitality business is experiencing problems, contact us FREE on 0800 9700539. Chat to one of our experienced advisers and we will see how we can help you!

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