Hospitality giant behind All Bar One and Edinburgh’s historic Sheep Heid Inn to cut jobs
The group, which also runs scores of well-known Scottish watering holes including Edinburgh’s historic Sheep Heid Inn and Deacon Brodies Tavern, warned that it was facing “significant difficulties” after restrictions tightened again on both sides of the Border.
M&B, which also owns the likes of Browns, Harvester and O’Neill’s, operates some 1,700 restaurants, pubs and bars across the UK and employs about 44,000 people. It has not disclosed how many jobs are likely to be affected.
Last week, rival Greene King – owner of Dunbar’s historic brewery Belhaven – revealed plans to cut about 800 jobs, while fellow pub businesses Young’s, Fuller’s and City Pub Group have also said they are planning redundancies.
A spokeswoman for M&B said: “Mitchells & Butlers, like many others in the sector, has taken the very difficult and regrettable decision to open redundancy consultations with a number of our frontline team and will seek to redeploy affected staff wherever possible.”
The firm called on further government support for the beleaguered sector.
The spokeswoman added: “Our industry is operating in exceptionally challenging and uncertain circumstances.
“While we have worked incredibly hard to make sites Covid-19 secure and keep staff and customers safe, we are facing significant difficulties from the recently introduced 10pm curfew for pubs, bars and restaurants, new enforced closures and tapering government support that doesn’t go far enough.
“With trading restrictions and uncertainty likely to continue for the foreseeable future, we strongly urge the government to step up the level of support it is offering to an industry which has been repeatedly singled out and taken the full brunt of restrictions.”
The popular All Bar One chain includes three bars in Edinburgh, including one within the city’s airport, as well as bars in Glasgow and Aberdeen city centres.
In a trading update last month, Mitchells & Butlers insisted that it was “well placed” to cope with the UK and Scottish governments’ 10pm curfews under restrictions to control a potential second wave of coronavirus.
The firm told investors that current trading has been “encouraging considering the circumstances”, but figures showed a slowdown since the end of the Eat Out to Help Out scheme.
M&B returned to like-for-like sales growth of 1.4 per cent in August thanks to the scheme, following a 32.4 per cent plunge in July.
That rebound has since pared back, with sales falling 6.4 per cent in the first three weeks of September.
Chief executive Phil Urban said at the time: “The future remains both challenging and uncertain. However, we believe we are well placed to meet that challenge.”
Restrictions have tightened in recent days, particularly in Scotland’s Central Belt, with licensed premises forced to close their doors over at least three weekends. Meanwhile, bars in Liverpool were told to close as part of the UK government’s new three-tiered restriction system for England.