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Greene King to close pubs, cutting 800 jobs

The Independent logo The Independent 07/10/2020 Sabrina Barr
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Pub retailer and brewer Greene King has announced it is closing dozens of pubs, with 800 jobs being cut from the business.

Greene King, which was bought by Hong Kong-based property developer CK Assets in 2019, is one of the largest hospitality companies in the UK, with 3,100 pubs, restaurants and hotels across the nation.

Following the restrictions imposed upon the hospitality sector, including the 10pm curfew which came into force on 24 September, the firm has made the decision to keep 79 of its sites closed for the time being.

Around a third of the locations are expected to remain permanently shut.

“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.

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“Therefore, we have made the difficult decision not to reopen 79 sites, including the 11 Loch Fyne restaurants we announced last week.”

The spokesperson said that while a third of the 79 sites will stay closed permanently, the company hopes “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,” they said.

“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.”

Last week, the head of brewery Fuller’s warned that approximately a tenth of its employees, of which there are around 5,000, could become redundant if they do not receive further support from the government.

Last month, before the 10pm curfew and additional restrictions were implemented, Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, said that the industry needs “to continue to support the government and local communities to manage the risk of rising infection rates”.

“Pubs have been adapting to the ‘new normal’ over the past few months and will continue to do so, but we are under no illusions that this will make an already challenging environment even more difficult for our sector,” Ms McClarkin said.

“Pubs were struggling to break even before today and these latest restrictions may push some to breaking point.”

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