Pub chain JD Wetherspoon has revealed first quarter sales plunged 27.6 per cent and said it will burn through around £14 million while 756 pubs are forced to close in the second English Covid-19 lockdown.
The group – which has two pubs in Stoke-on-Trent as well as elsewhere across North Staffordshire and South Cheshire – lashed out at “baffling and confusing” coronavirus restrictions at a national and regional level across the UK, the Press Association reports this morning.
Its slide in sales in the 15 weeks to November 8 followed a tough October after the 10pm curfew came into effect in late September, as well as table service and mandatory use of face masks.
Wetherspoon said as well as the pubs shut across England, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, it also has 51 sites in Wales which have just emerged from a two-week “firebreak” lockdown, and a further 64 in Scotland, which are “subject to an extremely onerous tier system”.
Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin said: “For any pub or restaurant company trading in different parts of the UK, and for customers generally, the constantly changing national and local regulations, combined with geographical areas moving from one tier to another in the different jurisdictions, are baffling and confusing.
“The entire regulatory situation is a complete muddle.
“However, the initial regulations, following reopening, introduced on July 4, were carefully thought through, followed thorough consultation, and were based on solid scientific foundations of social distancing and hygiene,” Mr Martin said.
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“The benefits of the regulatory hyperactivity since then, including the imposition of a curfew, are questionable.”