Major pub chain closes venues ‘indefinitely’ as boss heaps blame on ‘pitiful’ support

Simon Emeny, CEO of leading pub chain Fuller Smith and Turner, blasted the UK Government’s ‘pitiful’ support for the hospitality industry as Brits cancel tables and staff call in sick amid the Omicron surge

Bosses at Fuller Smith and Turner have decided to shut down 20 of its busiest boozers amid a surge in Omicron cases
Bosses at Fuller Smith and Turner have decided to shut down 20 of its busiest boozers amid a surge in Omicron cases

The boss of a leading pub chain has shut down the firm’s busiest boozers “indefinitely” as he slammed the Government’s “pitiful” support of the industry.

Chief executive of Fuller Smith and Turner, Simon Emeny, blasted minister’s “mixed messages” as Omicron rages through Britain in the run-up to Christmas.

England’s Chief Medical Officer, Chris Witty, has urged Brits to only attend social gatherings that “really matter to them”.

It comes as cases of the new and rapidly spreading strain tipped over 10,000 yesterday – three times as many infections as the day before.

As a whole, Covid cases have rocketed up to a record 93,000 as of Friday, the Daily Star reports.

Mr Emeny says he’s been left “no option” but to close 20 Fuller’s pubs this Christmas – the industry’s busiest time of year – as booking cancellations and staff shortages take their toll.

Critics have accused Boris Johnson of crafting a “lockdown by stealth” as Brits avoid pubs and restaurants to avoid catching the virus and having to spend December 25 alone, The Sun reports.

Fullers’ chief executive Simon Emeny says the firm has been forced to close down after staff absence and widespread booking cancellations

Mr Emeny said he made the tough decision to shutter 20 of its busiest establishments after a week of dismal sales.

Speaking to Sky News, he said: “Operating a large number of units in central London, we’re really in the eye of this hospitality challenge.

“Being out last night in the centre, it was very, very quiet. The reality in London is that our sales are currently down between 60 and 80%.

“As a result, we are closing 20 of what would have been our busiest sites indefinitely.”

Mr Emeny said the government’s response to the struggles of the hospitality industry had been “pitiful”.

The financial support has been described as ‘pitiful’

He said: “I think the response has been pitiful and there’s very little financial support for anybody at the moment.

“Engagement with the sector over the last three weeks has been very, very late – and very rushed.”

He claimed the “mixed messages” from the government over the Omicron variant is “confusing customers” and causing a lot of “operational difficulties”.

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“But clearly the government are being given scientific advice and are attempting to navigate this current crisis,” he added.

Mr Emeny said the Government are sending “mixed messages” and “confusing” customers

“But the only way through this though, having given those mixed messages to customers, is to give financial support to the sector.”

Mr Emeny added: “The country needs a vibrant hospitality sector coming out of this.

“My worry for everybody at the moment is those staff that aren’t going to be working on Monday who have got families to feed over the Christmas period, who are working for companies who now have zero sales.

“Who is going to pay them? How are they going to pay their rent, and how are they going to live over the coming weeks and months?”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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