The Chancellor and UK Government must intervene with financial support for hospitality as a matter of urgency, a retail analyst and economist has said today.

Dr Steven McCabe, Birmingham City University, spoke following the news that a major UK pub operator is closing a number of premises in the capital owing to low trade from customers and high Covid cases amongst staff.


“The news that pub chain Fuller Smith and Turner is ‘indefinitely’ closing a number of outlets in Central London – the UK epicentre of the Omicron outbreak - is as unsurprising as it seems sensible.

“Following the press conference last week during which Chief Medical Officer for England, Professor Chris Whitty advised people to avoid unnecessary contact, it appears as though the message has been heeded. A notable decline in footfall in cities and towns demonstrates that people are actively trying to avoid being infected particularly in Christmas week.

“There are inevitable consequences to these ‘voluntary’ closures. In the continued absence of government support, hospitality, as we’ve seen, has already been an immediate victim of this pandemic. No business can afford to sustain losses forever.

“As Fuller Smith and Turner’s chief executive Simon Emeny acknowledges, the most immediate victims of the 20 pubs being closed indefinitely will be staff deprived of wages in the week prior to Christmas and into the New Year. Many other leading figures in hospitality contend they are being made to pay the price for ‘mixed messages’ from government but with no financial support.

“For the collective sake of an ailing industry which employs millions, Sunak and the UK Government has to intervene as a matter of urgency - before business owners are forced to close ‘voluntarily’ whilst trade is decimated and before forced closure as part of an anticipated circuit breaker.”