Marston’s takes on SA Brain’s 156-strong pub stable
23 December 2020
Al Murray becomes Campaign for Pubs ambassador
23 December 2020

Nearly 500 applicants for two pub jobs

In July, The MA​ revealed that a south London pub operator had been inundated with 484 applications​ for two £9-an-hour bar jobs – including interest from former air stewards, restaurant managers and shop workers recently made redundant as a result of the ongoing pandemic.

As reported by Metro.co.uk​​, Mick Dore of the Alexandra pub in Wimbledon, south London, tweeted: “I don’t want to alarm anyone about the economy or anything, but I advertised two bar jobs at 4.30 on Thursday. We’ve had well over 400 applicants. Gulp.” 

 “We’d normally get a dozen or so sensible replies (i.e people who don’t live in West Ham and stuff),” he added. “Not that there’s anything wrong with people who live in West Ham obviously, it’s just miles away.” 

Dore said the quality of applicants was so high he ended up hiring six people.

150 Greene King apprenticeships available for A-Level recipients

Amid the A-level results chaos in August​, Suffolk-based brewer and pub operator Greene King encouraged recipients of A-Level results to consider applying for 150 live apprenticeship vacancies. 

Since 2011, Greene King has supported more than 12,500 apprentices with opportunities ranging from front of house and kitchen roles to management and supervisory positions. 

“We know that university might not be the right path for everyone, but an apprenticeship can provide an alternative route and be the start of a rewarding and fulfilling career,” Graham Briggs, head of apprenticeships and employability programmes at Greene King, said. 

“Our apprenticeship programme enables young people to earn while they learn, offering the best of both worlds. With a particularly challenging jobs market at the moment, we are pleased that we can continue providing roles to young people at the start of their careers.

“Apprenticeships play a hugely important role in social mobility, and we are continuing to invest in our programme so we can provide more opportunities and quality training for young people entering the hospitality industry.  

“We look forward to welcoming more new team members and offering them an exciting and rewarding career with us.”

Be Inclusive Hospitality launches mentorship scheme 

Not-for-profit organisation Be Inclusive Hospitality unveiled a new mentorship scheme to support black, Asian and minority ethnic employees within the sector in August.

Launched in autumn, the Elevate Mentorship Scheme programme includes mentors such as chefs James Cochran and Nokx Majozi; author, recipe writer and food stylist Rukmini Iyer; as well as food critic Jimi Famurewa.

Be Inclusive Hospitality also works in tandem with like-minded businesses within the sector and grants access to tools and resources to address the lack of diversity​​ in the hospitality industry – particularly in head chef, managerial and leadership roles.

The group, founded last year by senior procurement leader Lorraine Copes – who has worked for brands such as Shake Shack, Gordon Ramsay and currently Corbin & King – aims to ‘advance learning throughout the sector; beginning with a focus on its members and providing them with mentoring, coaching, and sponsored learning initiatives’.

The organisation also calls upon mentors from diverse backgrounds and mentees from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds to get in touch.

Be inclusive

EOTHO creates an extra 821 years of work

Figures from hospitality software provider Fourth revealed in September​ found that the Government-backed Eat Out to Help Out scheme increased the scheduled hours worked by hospitality staff from 12.9m in July to 20.1m in August – an extra 821 years’ worth of extra work.

The data, which was drawn from Fourth’s analysis of over 700 companies across the restaurant, pub and bar, and fast-food restaurant sectors, found that the 20.1m hours worked in August was 41% down on 2019 when 34.2m scheduled hours were worked.

According to Fourth’s analysis, hospitality hours worked in July 2020 were down by 63% year-on-year – 12.9m hours versus 35m hours – while June 2020’s numbers were was down by a huge 85% – 5.1m versus 33.1m – as venues were still shuttered by the Government’s enforced closure.

The data also found that the average number of hours worked per employee was flat year-on-year despite the average number of people scheduled to work falling by 40% as operators scaled down staff numbers in reaction to reduced capacity.

Whitbread weights up making 6,000 roles redundant

As reported by The MA in September​, ​the operator behind brands such as Brewers Fayre, Beefeater and Premier Inn announced that as many as 6,000 members of staff​​ could face redundancy following a collapse in sales during the coronavirus crisis.

According to reports in The Guardian​​​, Whitbread was also close to cutting 15% to 20% of jobs at its head office, a further 150 positions.

The PLC, which said it had begun consultations with staff and hoped the majority of cuts could be made voluntarily, revealed that sales during the first half of its financial year to 27 August slipped by almost 80% due to the forced closure of most sites. 

This came despite the hospitality giant reporting in August that its total UK sales had improved to just 38.5% down year-on-year with its accommodation division said to be performing ahead of the market and its restaurants “boosted by the positive impact of the Eat Out to Help Out scheme”. 

However, the operator later revealed that it was considering significantly reduced redundancy plans following the extension of the furlough scheme and vaccine breakthrough.

Whitbread

450 redundancies at JDW airport pubs possible

Staff at JD Wetherspoon (JDW)’s airport pubs were told that between 400 and 450 roles were at risk of redundancy​​ due to a nosedive in passenger numbers in September​.

“The company has written to 1,000 people employed in its pubs at six airports (Gatwick, Heathrow, Stansted, Birmingham Edinburgh and Glasgow) to inform them a possible 400 to 450 positions are at risk of redundancy,” chief executive John Hutson said.

“The decision is mainly a result of a downturn in trade in these pubs, linked with the large reduction in passenger numbers using the airports.

“We should emphasise no firm decisions have been made at this stage. The company will listen to suggestions from staff to help avoid or reduce the number of compulsory redundancies, which are required.

“JDW is proposing to collectively consult with employees through an employment representative committee, which will be established for this purpose.”

A month prior, the pub group informed its entire head office workforce​​ that a possible 110 to 130 positions were at risk of redundancy.

Greene King to cut 79 sites and up to 800 jobs

Suffolk-based brewer and pub operator Greene King announced plans to close 79 venues and cut hundreds of jobs due to reduced trade in October.

The closures represent around 2.5% of Greene King’s 3,100-strong stable​ with the 800 potential job losses around 2.1% of its 38,000 staff.

While 800 of its employees are impacted by the closures, the company is looking to redeploy them in other parts of the business.

“The continued tightening of the trading restrictions for pubs, which may last another six months, along with the changes to Government support was always going to make it a challenge to reopen some of our pubs,” a spokesperson for Greene King said.

“Therefore, we have made the difficult decision to not reopen 79 of our pubs and restaurants. About one-third will be closed permanently and we hope to be able to reopen the others in the future. We are working hard with our teams to try and find them a role in another of our pubs wherever possible.

“We urgently need the Government to step in and provide tailored support to help the sector get through to the spring and prevent further pub closures and job losses.”

Greene King

Greene King and International Slavery Museum announce education partnership

Greene King revealed it will work in tandem with Liverpool’s International Slavery Museum​ to raise awareness of the historic transatlantic slave trade. 

The partnership saw the brewer and pub operator offer financial support for the National Museums Liverpool’s Black History Month programme throughout October​.

What’s more, Greene King’s 38,000 employees were offered the chance to participate in online workshops on Understanding Transatlantic Slavery while the International Slavery Museum will help the brewer uncover the history of one of the beer maker’s founders, Benjamin Greene.

After founding the brewery in 1799, Greene owned cane sugar plantations in the West Indies where he owned enslaved Africans and profited from their labour. He later campaigned against the abolition of slavery in the 1800s, writing columns in his own newspaper criticising abolitionist campaigns. He was also financially compensated​​ when slavery was abolished.

2,150 Marston’s pub jobs ‘impacted’ by additional Covid-19 restrictions

In a trading update for the 53 weeks ended 3 October 2020​, Wolverhampton-based operator of close to 1,400 pubs, Marston’s, revealed that despite 10,000 staff members returning to work, around 2,150 pub-based roles​ currently subject to furlough are at risk, following the introduction of new pandemic restrictions.

As reported by The MA​​, Marston’s reopened 99% between 4 July and the period’s end – though 21 later closed due to restrictions in Scotland​​​ with a further 18 shuttered in Liverpool​​​ under the latest three-tier lockdown system.

Marston’s chief executive officer, Ralph Findlay explained that these additional restrictions present “significant challenges” to the business and will make trading more difficult for a period of time.

“I very much regret the consequence of this is that the jobs of around 2,150 of our colleagues will be impacted, but it is an inevitable consequence of the limitations placed upon our business. We will be looking at our cost base further in the coming weeks.”

Marston's

Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company named chief executive 

Former Carlsberg vice-president of craft and speciality Paul Davies was named chief executive of the £780m Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company joint venture in November​. 

Under the terms of the transaction, the new entity will have access to Marston’s pub estate for its beer portfolio via a long-term supply and distribution agreement. 

While outgoing Carlsberg UK managing director, Tomasz Blawat, returned to his native Poland to pursue other interests, he will oversee the integration until the end of the year. 

What’s more, Marston’s chief executive Ralph Findlay was appointed as non-executive chairman of Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company. 

“This is a significant moment for us as we create a new, better beer company, with a sustainable future in UK brewing,” Davies explained. “We have a rare opportunity to create a unique beer business that combines more than 300 years of brewing heritage and an unrivalled portfolio of brands, each with authenticity and provenance. 

“I am delighted to lead Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company with the support of a new, experienced management team. 

“We would like to thank Tomasz for leading the transaction process over the past 12 months, and we wish him well in his future endeavours back in Poland. Today is the start of our journey towards Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company becoming the UK’s best beer platform.”  

Wadworth announces new CEO prior to 21-site disposal

Wiltshire-based multiple operator and brewer Wadworth announced a restructure of its business which saw chief executive officer Chris Welham leave the company​ in December after five years at the helm.  

Toby Bartholomew, son of chairman Charles Bartholomew, was announced as his successor as managing director in November.

“After just over five years as chief executive officer for Wadworth, I can confirm that Chris Welham is to leave the company at the end of December 2020,” Charles Bartholomew said of the changes. 

“Chris has been a loyal and dedicated member of the board and has led us through a considerable period of change. It was always the intention for Chris to oversee an orderly transition of his duties to a family director.  

“I am pleased to confirm that Toby Bartholomew will become managing director of Wadworth once Chris has left us.”

The news came days before Wadworth announced the sale of 21 pubs​​ – just under half of its managed estate – to Liberation Group for an undisclosed sum.

Covid vaccine a shot in the arm for pubco shares 

Major pubco share prices rocketed following the announcement of a coronavirus vaccine by pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and BioNTech in November​.

Some 40m doses of the vaccine were initially ordered by the UK Government, with around 10m of them expected to be ready for use by Christmas, according to reports.

The announcement of the jab sparked London’s stock market into action and, at the time of reporting, the FTSE 100 was on track to have its best day since March. 

At around midday on 9 November​, Mitchells & Butlers PLC saw its share price rocket by over 26% while JD Wetherspoon PLC saw similar figures, with its price jumping by over 21%.

Vaccine

Revolution reshuffles board amid CVA approval 

Revolution Bars Group announced board changes following the completion of a CVA process in November​ with chief financial officer Mike Foster indicating he will not seek re-election at the group’s AGM on 22 December and will step down from the board at the end of that meeting.

What’s more, the board revealed its intention for Danielle Davies will be appointed as chief financial officer immediately following the AGM. 

Thew news came after more than 88% of all creditors voted in favour of a CVA proposal with more than 75% of unconnected creditors following suit. 

Revolution Bars Limited includes 51 Revolution branded leasehold bars, six of which were closed following the CVA’s approval, with reduced rental terms agreed in respect of seven further sites which are now subject to turnover-based rents with minimum rental thresholds for the duration of the two-year CVA period​. 

Revolution

Diageo pledges 50:50 gender split in leadership by 2030

Drinks giant Diageo unveiled a raft of 25 sustainability pledges in its Society 2030: Spirit of Progress​​ plan in November​ as it looks to contribute towards the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. 

“As a global business, we are committed to playing our part to protect the future of our planet and to leading the way for others to follow,” Ivan Menezes, chief executive, Diageo said. 

“I am immensely proud of Diageo’s sustainability and responsibility achievements to date, and this new, ambitious action plan will challenge us even further to deliver more over the critical decade to 2030. 

As part of its plan, Diageo aims to reach more than 1bn people with messages of moderation by 2030, pledging to change the attitudes of 5m towards drink driving educating more than 10m people on the dangers of underage drinking. 

What’s more, Diageo has outlined ambitions to have 45% representation of leaders from ethnically diverse backgrounds by 2030 as well as 50% of all leaders being women.

“By setting both gender and ethnicity goals for the business to achieve by 2030, I believe we can truly break down barriers and help shape a more diverse and successful long-term business and society,” Menezes added.

Tim Martin offloads £5m of JDW shares 

As reported by The MA​’s sister title MCA in December​​, JD Wetherspoon (JDW) chairman Tim Martin sold £5m worth of shares in the pub company. 

Martin offloaded 431,500 shares at £11.66 each on 1 December, leaving him with a 27% stake in the business.

The move marked the second time Martin has sold JDW shares this year, having offloaded £5m worth in the summer.

The news came just days after the JDW boss warned that new Covid-19 trading restrictions would prevent half of the group’s sites from reopening, calling the new rules a “lockdown by stealth.”

At the time of writing, JDW had 435 pubs in tier two or the equivalent in Scotland while 366 of its sites were subject to the highest tier and will therefore remained shuttered.

“It is very disappointing that yet another raft of regulations has been introduced, which has effectively closed half our pubs,” he explained. “In reality, the government has extended a form of lockdown, by stealth, in large swathes of the country.”

Martin

£30m NHS contract awarded to former pub operator  

Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s former neighbour and pub operator Alex Bourne was awarded a contract to supply medical-grade vials for Covid-19 test kits to the NHS several months ago in a deal worth £30m, a Guardian ​​investigation found in December​.

Bourne – who ran the Cock Inn in Thurlow, Suffolk, a few hundred yards from Hancock’s former constituency home, until late 2017 – had no previous experience of medical supplies but has been manufacturing plastic vials for Covid test kits for about six months according to findings. 

As Conservative MP for West Suffolk, Mr Hancock attended the pub’s reopening after refurbishment in 2016 and after it was nominated for an award in 2017.

The paper reported that Bourne’s lawyers initially denied that he had any discussions with Hancock about pandemic supplies, however the former operator later confirmed that he reached out to Hancock via WhatsApp when the UK was first gripped by Covid-19 in March.  

The Guardian​​ stated that he said he hoped to repurpose his company Hinpack – which had been making disposable plastic cups and takeaway boxes – to provide personal protective equipment.

Hancock reportedly advised Bourne to submit information about his company to the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) website before a “major distributor” of medical equipment contacted him several weeks later.

At the time of writing, Bourne had produced as many as 2m vials a week for NHS Covid tests since June according to The Guardian​​.

650k hospitality jobs lost in 2020

In December a new study revealed​ that 2020 had seen an estimated 650,000 job losses in the hospitality sector

Research from global software provider Fourth also found there has been a fall of more than a quarter (26%)​ in overall staff head count since November 2019.

The workforce across the industry reduced by 4% in November, compared to a drop of 7% in October while the number of hours worked across the sector was 75% lower compared to November 2019.

Sector recruitment also saw a downturn in the month when national lockdown restrictions were imposed, with a drop of 59% compared to October.

Westminster

Minister for hospitality debate after 150,000 sign petition

The MA​ reported in December that the UK Government could appoint a minister for hospitality​ after a widespread campaign garnered near 150,000 signatures, meaning the sector’s demand must now be debated in Parliament.  

Politicians were reported to have set a date and time for the debate of Monday 11 January 2021 at 4.30pm​, following the success of the #SeatAtTheTable campaign, which was backed by high profile people in the sector including celebrity chef James Martin.

The petition simply states: “The UK hospitality industry. Responsible for around 3m jobs, generating £130bn in activity, resulting in £38bn in taxation. Yet, unlike the arts or sports, we do not have a dedicated minister”.

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