Marstons to cut up to 2,150 furloughed pub jobs

Pub and brewery group Marstons says it will axe up to 2,150 furloughed jobs following new restrictions to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

The company said since the first lockdown was lifted, 10,000 of its employees had returned to work.

But Marstons said new measures such as the 10pm curfew and restrictions in Liverpool mean 2,150 pub-based roles are going to be impacted.

The current wage subsidy scheme expires at the end of this month.

It is being replaced by the Job Support Scheme which will top-up wages for employees who have not been able to return to work full-time because of the coronavirus.

However, companies are expected to make a higher contribution to wages under the Job Support Scheme – unless their business is closed under “very high” Tier Three coronavirus restrictions – leading to fears firms will choose to cut workers when furlough ends.

The company said that since 4 July it had reopened 99% of its pubs and “consumer confidence increased steadily throughout July, August and into September”.

However, it said new restrictions such as the 10pm curfew, table-only service and the closure of pubs in some areas of Scotland had undermined consumer confidence.

Marstons said it has 21 pubs in Scotland, of which eight are currently closed. It also has 18 pubs in the “highest risk” Liverpool region, the majority of which can serve food so therefore can remain open.

Marstons boss Ralph Findlay said: “The additional restrictions which have been applied across the UK most recently present significant challenges to us and will make business more difficult for a period of time.”

He said he regretted the job cuts, but that they were “an inevitable consequence of the limitations placed upon our business”.

In the 13 weeks since reopening, Marstons said sales were 10% below last year. July recorded the biggest fall, with sales down 26% before turning positive again in August. However, in September, trade dropped by 12%.

Mr Findlay also said the company was looking at further reducing its costs and is undergoing a review which will be completed in December.

The hospitality sector has been one of the worst affected industries during the coronavirus pandemic.

Earlier this week, Mitchells & Butlers said it had begun consultations with some employees about redundancies.

UK Hospitality, the trade body, warned that job cuts in the sector this year could surpass a previous forecast of 560,000 redundancies.

The impact has been particularly felt by young people, many of whom work in hospitality.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) recently released data showing that the number of people in employment had fallen by around 500,000 since the pandemic began. Of those, some 300,000 are aged between 16-24. “That’s really disproportionate,” said Jonathan Athow, the ONS’s deputy national statistician for economic statistics.