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Here you can find licensed trade news and updates, the weekly e-newsletter INNfocus, past editions of the BII News (our quarterly magazine), and hear all about our latest industry campaigns.

BII Menu Matters - January 2022

Factor value into menu planning. Following some basic buying rules will help pubs get best value out of their food budget, says Martin Eshelby, development support chef with Oliver Kay Produce.

The start of the year is a quiet time for many pubs, even in a good year, and 2022, with continued concerns about Covid, as well as uncertainty over the cost of living making many consumers cautious, is likely to see significant challenges for many operators.
While some costs can’t be controlled, there are ways that operators can make a significant difference, and a focus on managing the food budget can deliver benefits to the bottom line quickly. 
The new year is also always a good time to review the food offer, and without taking favourites such as fish & chips, bangers and mash, roasts and pies off the menu, by varying the fish species or cuts of meat used, it’s possible to make the most of changing availability and get the best value from the high-quality produce available from specialist suppliers.
Lamb is always a popular dish on menus, but the price of different cuts can vary considerably, and change quickly according to market conditions. A dish such as chump of lamb and harissa crushed potatoes with minted peas & lettuce in a smoked butter, puts distinctive flavours on the menu and makes good use of a sometimes-underrated cut.  
https://www.oliverkayproduce.co.uk/food-info/seasonal-recipes-ideas/253-lamb-peas 
For a fish and seafood special that goes beyond some of the most-used varieties, pan fried hake with a crab and prawn croquette, and a saffron and mussel sauce will appeal to customers who want to try less familiar dishes when they eat out.
https://www.directseafoods.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/Hake-recipe-from-Direct-Seafoods.pdf 
When working with less familiar cuts, it’s always worth talking to suppliers, and to consider making use of the skills of their specialist butchers, fishmongers and fruit and veg prep experts to supplement the work done in the kitchen.
For example, different fish species have varying yields, so buying a whole fish by weight may not be the best indication of how many portions will be available for the menu or specials board. Direct Seafoods, currently the MSC Fresh Fish Food Service Supplier of the Year, can prepare the fish as required and get the best value from every fish caught.
Pan fried sea bass with parsnip puree and honey roasted heritage parsnips puts this popular fish at the heart of the menu, with a dish that will appeal to customers looking for healthier options, as well as working well on Valentine’s menus. https://www.directseafoods.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/Pan-fried-sea-bass-with-parsnip-puree-and-honey-roasted-Heritage-parsnips.pdf 
Steaks, chops and ribs, as well as other popular cuts, offer a similar opportunity. The specialist butchers at Cambell Brothers can trim cuts to the exact weight and menu specifications, leaving staff in the pub kitchen free to focus on the sauces and accompaniments, as well as cooking techniques, that add value for customers.
Vegan and vegetarian versions of popular pub classics are also an essential part of the menu, with a range of plant-based options. The seitan burger recipe from Oliver Kay Produce, using a wheat protein as the basis of a great vegetarian burger, has proven very popular with pubs.
https://www.oliverkayproduce.co.uk/food-info/seasonal-recipes-ideas/265-seitanburger  
There is also an opportunity to make the most of the trim from fish and meat cuts by offering favourites such as burgers, meatballs, fishcakes and fishfingers as snacks, starters and on children’s menus. Suppliers can offer these in a range of varieties, helping pubs to get the best value from food spend right across the menu.    
www.directseafoods.co.uk 
www.campbellbrothers.co.uk 
www.oliverkayproduce.co.uk 

Have the facts to hand to offer advice on alcohol-free and lower strength drinks

For many, January is a time for good intentions and new goals. For those drinkers wishing to cut down in 2022, the boom in alcohol-free and lower strength drinks may help them achieve their resolutions.

With on-trade operators also keen to maintain custom in January after a challenging festive period, what advice can you give to customers looking to the emerging category to help them cut back?  

Adam Jones, Drinkaware’s business development and partnerships director shares some guidance to help ensure those pledges count in January and throughout 2022: 
 
For many of us, New Year represents a chance to set new goals or improve our health and wellbeing. I have been delighted to see the on-trade stocking a wider range of alcohol-free or lower strength drinks than ever before, something that can directly appeal to customers looking to cut down in 2022. We know from our research however that the terminology around alcohol-free and lower strength drinks isn’t always well understood. That is just one place where Drinkaware’s guidance can help:   
 
Definitions and terminology can be confusing for staff and customers alike 
 
Our 2021 Monitor report showed people had a poor understanding of alcohol-free and lower strength drinks. Only 5.1% of our 9,137 participants were able to correctly identify what the labels of ‘alcohol-free’ and ‘low strength’ drinks mean in terms of ABV. To help clear things up:  
For drinks produced in the UK, low alcohol drinks refer to those which have an ABV (alcoholic strength by volume) of between 0.05 and 1.2% 
Drinks classified as alcohol-free may contain a small amount of alcohol but only at a strength of 0.05% or less 
Reduced or lower strength drinks have an alcohol content lower than the average strength of a particular type of drink - wine with an ABV strength of 5.5%, is a reduced alcohol wine, as opposed to a low alcohol wine 
The terms low and no are often used together but represent quite different products. Drinkaware therefore recommends using low alcohol, lower strength or alcohol-free descriptions to help consumers make the most informed decisions about their drinking.  

Definitions can also vary across different countries, so with many products being imported into the UK from oversees it is useful to always double check the ABV before advising customers.  

Suitability for anyone who cannot drink alcohol  

Low alcohol and alcohol-free drinks may still contain a small amount of alcohol and are therefore not appropriate for anyone who is avoiding alcohol completely. 

Health  

Substituting low alcohol, lower strength and alcohol-free drinks for higher ABV products can help customers reduce the amount of alcohol they drink and keep to the UK Chief Medical Officers’ low-risk drinking guidelines, which can bring many important health benefits. But these products may also contain more calories than the traditional higher strength drinks, so it’s worth remembering they cannot always be described as ‘healthier’ or ‘healthy choices’. 

Drinking lower strength and alcohol-free drinks can help prevent alcohol harm when used instead of traditional, higher strength drinks  

Drinking low alcohol and alcohol-free products can help people reduce their alcohol intake, providing a valuable moderation tool. However, the technique only works when used as substitution for higher strength alcoholic alternatives. Consuming low alcohol or alcohol-free drinks in addition to usual drinking, won’t see drinkers gain the benefits associated with reducing their alcohol intake. 

Final tips to help cut back 

In additional to alcohol-free, low alcohol and lower strength options, a few good techniques that staff can recommend to customers to help them cut back include: 
Setting a goal and tracking progress – why not suggest customers download the Drinkaware app to help stay on track 
Taking several drink free days each week 
Telling a partner, family member or friend about plans to cut down and asking them to encourage, support or join in with the goal 
For all those looking to make a positive impact on their health in 2022 by reducing how much alcohol they drink, Drinkaware is there to help. For more information, tips and advice head to
drinkaware.co.uk 

New Issue of BII News - Winter 2022 - Out Now!

Our Winter 2022 Edition of BII News has been zooming through BII Members' letterboxes, but we wanted to shine a spotlight on the content you have access to digitally and via print.

BII CEO Steven Alton introduces the magazine with his welcome letter entitled "Pulling together to achieve success". Here, Steven talks about how the licensed trade have come together to share best practice, and the latest innovations, to strive to encourage industry-wide success.

"Pubs have been heralded for their work in supporting and sustaining their communities and for the role they play in providing careers and skills for local people, and the social and community service they supply."

Simply the best! Meet our Licensee of the Year Award winners for 2021 - Jason and Chris Black of the Pityme Inn, Wadebridge, Cornwall

This year's Winter Event and Licensee of the Year Award was like none other. It brought together an industry devastated by the pandemic to recognise and celebrate the many outstanding achievements, the sheet determination, hard work and blood, sweat and tears it has taken to get to this points, 20 months since pubs were first ordered to close.

BII Members are at the heart of BII News, we're constantly checking in with licensees to see how they experience our Member Benefits, and what the road to recovery looks like as we move towards return to full trading. 

In our ten to one segment, we asked 10 licensees, "How is tech helping you to run a more efficient business?"

Daniel Pilley MBII, Nine Jars, Haverhill, Suffolk

"We have implemented a task audit trail system for our team. Staff come in to work and have daily tasks that they have to check off. This covers everything from opening the doors to making sure they tables are clean, the toilets are checked and the fridges are al stocked. It is all timed and different tasks come in at different times of the day.

"We have this in every part of the business. We recently launched a horsebox to serve outside coffees and cocktails at night and there is a whole system of tasks in place for that. It then sends the managers and owners different levels of reporting."

Nicola Storey, MBII, The Mustard Pot, Chapel Allerton, Leeds

"Technology has been a revelation. My bookings system takes away half my workload as it allocated tables, takes pre-authentication of peoples' cards and it even sells tickets for you.

"The booking system is simple and reduces the amount of phone calls, pre-orders over the phone and saves us writing things down."

Each issue we catch up with three members for our Meet the Member interviews, as well as industry professionals, MPs campaigning for Pubs, and large scale operators, to bring you the best view of the hospitality landscape.

Click here to read your copy digitally! (Be sure to login beforehand!)

 Read our latest interviews with BII Members here

Every Little Counts: Pubs & Sustainability

Mark Holden FBII - Director of Inn Cornwall, highlights good practice and the small steps that can add up to big wins when it comes to executing sustainability in his pub businesses.

“The pandemic made us pause and really dig deeper into our business,” says Mark Holden FBII, who co-owns three St Austell leased and tenanted properties in Cornwall. “There were a lot of thought processes about how we could become more efficient, reach out into different networks and use new information."
 
REAPPRAISING MARGINS
“Our attitude around margin has changed. We realise we have to become bolder with our price points and aim to constantly increase our gross profit target on food. We’ve looked at plate size, price point and becoming more responsive to supplier price changes, and have taken into account wage increases. We’ve also got a longer-term strategy around where we need our margin to be. By April or May 2022, we’re looking for an increase in food GP of between 1.5% and 2.6% depending on the site, taking into account the product mix, demographic of the location and how price sensitive sites are.
 
“Salaries are the biggest cost – anything from 28-35% depending on the site. It is huge and increasing, hence we have to look at margin gains to pay for it. Everything is going up, so it’s the reality that you have to be bold with your own pricing. You can’t wait; you can’t leave it.”

 

TRANSPARENCY ON FINANCES

 “We run our payroll weekly. It’s labour intensive and comes with a cost but by doing it we create a profit and loss account every single week for all our managers and team members. They can see how their site is operating. It means if changes need to be made we’re not waiting a month for it to happen. We have a very clear view of what needs to happen. Off the back of that we have incentive schemes for our leadership teams. They are all rewarded against the net profitability and performance of each business each week. If someone has been doing particularly well and smashed it out of the park on a Sunday, the reward is processed on Monday and not forgotten about. It adds another level of motivation.”

REAL TIME AWARENESS

“We try to make sure our financial records are up to the trading speed of the business. We provide our kitchens with a sales purchase margin tracker. We input all of the food invoices, as they come in during the week, and it gives our chefs a cumulative figure to compare against sales during that period. If they’re heading into a busy weekend and they have received a report that shows -£2,000 of stock, it gives them a kick up the backside to check stock levels. When levels are looking high, it gives them a prod to think about slowing down purchasing and using up some stock. We’re not reliant on our external stocktaker coming in every six week or two months. We have that as an additional check, but we’ll know pretty much what that’s going to look like by tracking on a weekly basis.”

EXPANDING NETWORKS

“I’m in a mentor programme, through Be The Business, getting help from a senior leader in BAE Systems. It’s a fantastic programme that’s free to subscribe to. He has no experience in hospitality or the pub trade but it’s all about communication, leadership and management of people, and having the headspace to deep-dive into problem solving in our business. We meet up once a fortnight over Zoom and talk about the business progress and it helps to ensure that you’re actioning things and tackling issues inside the business. We’ve done a lot around structuring of meetings, being more direct with our managers, and making sure communication drip-feeds all the way down – small improvements that overall have a really big impact. It keeps you on your toes.”

CLOUD AND CLEAR

“We’ve gone a lot more cloud-based with our technology. It means we’re able to work more on the go and can share information from our till systems between our sites. It’s created an added level of competitiveness between our pubs and managers, but has also added a level of celebration. If one site does particularly well, they’ll be messaging each other to say ‘well done’. It motivates people and leads to much more collaborative learning and problem solving. A little bit of competition is healthy, if it’s managed well.”

WASTE MANAGEMENT

"All our cellars now have the Carlsberg Quality Dispense Systems. That has cut energy use and wastage, provided a more consistent product and the yield is a lot more stable. Our pouring yield on draught is 103%. We’ve also used the iDraught app alongside that to input our sales data and monitor yields. That has made us a lot leaner.”

SAVING ENERGY

"We pivoted last year and created a delivery brand called Pub Grub and we were lucky to be lent some electric vehicles by two local companies who had less use for them. We built on that and now have our own electric car fleet and we’ve installed charging points at venues for our vehicles and those of guests. We’ve just finished a 44-panel solar installation at one of our sites with the help of St Austell Brewery as part of a long-term investment project – and we renewed our electricity contract in July to switch to power from green sources. We are paying more for that but it was a moral decision and is assisting us to move closer to net zero. We don’t use brokers for energy contracts. We go direct to the big six and play them off against each other to try to bring down the unit price as much as possible. Monitoring energy use is key, having access to data and sharing that with team members.”

NURTURING TALENT

 "We’re doing a lot around career paths in hospitality. We’ve maxed out on our apprenticeship funding, with 12 apprentices signed up across Levels 2-4 in management. Hopefully, by 2023, we’ll be working with our education providers to have a Level 5, which will be a foundation degree in hospitality. The idea is to have lots of really good talent and for people to have careers inside the business. We’ve got kickstarters, traineeships, work experience projects and apprenticeships.” 

This article originally appeared in the print version of BII News Winter 2022, published in January. BII Members can access this online here. 

BII launches industry recognition awards - NITAs 2022

The National Innovation in Training Awards (NITAs) from the British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) have always recognised the best of the best when it comes to training and development in the licensed trade. 

The NITAs showcase the individuals and businesses who put their people first, creating innovative training programmes and nurturing long term careers in the licensed trade. As the leading membership body for licensees and professionals working in the hospitality sector today, the BII passionately believes that those at the heart of recruitment, retention, development and wellbeing of their teams need to be recognised for the incredible contributions they have made over the last year, especially considering the impact of the pandemic.
 
The NITAs are more important than ever in these critical times for the hospitality industry. The BII is delighted therefore, to announce the launch of NITAs for 2022, in partnership with BIIAB and Access Hospitality. Last year the Staff Wellbeing Award was a popular addition, and is now a core award, recognising the incredible work our sector has done to protect the wellbeing of their teams.
 
In addition, a brand-new award this year will recognise individual apprentices for the first time, as an essential part of attracting and developing new talent in our industry. 
 
The core categories for the NITAs this year can be seen below: 
  • Best Training Programme: Leased & Tenanted Companies under 200 outlets
  • Best Training Programme: Leased & Tenanted Companies over 200 outlets
  • Best Training Programme: Managed Companies under 50 outlets
  • Best Training Programme: Managed Companies over 50 outlets
  • Best Training Programme: Individual Operator
  • Best Training Programme: Apprenticeships
  • Hospitality Apprentice of the Year – NEW for 2022
  • Staff Wellbeing Award
  • Training Professional of the Year Award
  • HR Manager of the Year Award

The BII are also delighted to welcome a very special award again this year as part of the NITAs awards ceremony in April 2022 – the Franca Knowles Lifetime Achievement Award.

The Franca Knowles Lifetime Achievement Award is an industry recognition award and the winner will be chosen by a panel led by Keith Knowles, CEO and founder of Beds & Bars. The award will identify and recognise an individual who leads by example and can demonstrate that people are at the core of what they do. 

The award is in memory of the late Franca Knowles, who herself was a multiple winner of NITA awards and was passionate about the importance of investing in people and their continued training and development.

All awards are now open for entries – visit the NITAs page on the BII’s website for all information on how to enter any of the categories for 2022.

Alternatively, you can email [email protected] or call the team on 01276 684449.

Showcase your offer in 2022

Carrying out a bit of social media housekeeping early in the New Year can put your business in the best place to win new customers and keep in touch with old ones. Here, Social Media Consultant Alison Battisby of Avocado Social, provides a checklist and some great tips for getting 2022 off to a flying start.

First things first, Christmas may have delivered you some new and updated customer data from bookings and enquiries, make sure you have captured this and use it to reach out to a potential new audience early in the New Year, says Avocado Social's Alison Battisby. Creating your first post, after the festive period, as a 'welcome to the community' will have the added benefit of bumping any Christmas content down a bit further too. 

 

Before posting, carry out a bit of housekeeping and double check all the descriptions you are using, including any links, visuals and information across all your social media platforms and website, are current. Doing a mini audit of your social media at key times of the year is a good way to ensure everything stays up-to-date and is giving customers the latest information. 

CREATE FRESH CONTENT

  • Now we are in January, people are eager to view fresh and new content.
  • Spend more time taking new images and consider getting in a professional photographer, or at least find a keen amateur within your staff or a regular customer, to take some new shots.
  • Having great visuals is all important when it comes to creating social media success.
  • Take good images of all the best aspects of your business, from the garden to your dishes. Your delicious cocktails and cask beers, your team, bar and garden are all worth investing in getting really good images of. 

BE RELEVANT

  • Show your healthy side! January is all about being healthier, eating better and potentially drinking less alcohol. 
  • It's the perfect time to showcase your alternative offer - shine the spotlight onto your new and delicious vegan dishes and great range of interesting non-alcoholic drinks. 
  • Use hashtags at the end of your posts to help people find your while they are searching, for instance, #vegan #alcoholfree, etc.

HASHTAGS

  • Using hashtags with key words will help people find you, when searching. 
  • Your location, region, maybe the area of the city you're based in, along with all your unique selling points are good features to hashtag, for instance: #countrypub #pub #beergarden #Sundayroasts #rugby #coffee.
  • Also use hashtags to promote some of your top sellers and, if you offer accommodation, don't forget to include #pubswithrooms.
  • If you're not already doing it, try including your products next time: #gin #FeverTree #BombaySapphire

TRY ADVERTISING IN JANUARY

  • Paying for adverts can be a powerful part of your social media marketing. Many big brands have been running ads extensively in the run-up to Christmas, which means the cost of advertising becomes cheaper in January. 
  • January and February can be a really good time to promote an advert that will drive people into your pub for an event or special offer, or even just use it to advertise your new winter menu or your wider range of new soft drinks. 
  • You will find you can achieve far more with a smaller budget in these quieter months, by spending between £20-£50.

WHEN CREATING AN AD, DON'T FORGET:

  • Have a clear call to action: ask people to do something, like 'book a table', 'give us a call', 'view the website' or ''share and follow us on social media'.
  • Keep any text on the on the ad short and use visuals that are eye-catching. 
  • Thinking carefully about who you want to target: your relevant pub audience, an area within 5kms of your pub, etc. 
  • Appeal to the right age group - your target customer.
  • Use hashtags to add in interest, from popular brand names to your best offer, i.e. #Sundayroast, #vegan, #cask.

RUN A COMPETITION

  • Competitions always work well on social media. 
  • Put up a free bottle of wine as a prize, and, again, ask people to do something to give your post more reach and customer engagement. 
  • For instance, ask people to follow and comment on a post, or follow and tag your pub to the three friends they would like to share that bottle of wine with.
  • While January and February might be the quietest months, you can use this to your advantage and give your pub the best chance to stand out and encourage them to rebook any cancelled parties. 
  • Many brands and businesses remain relatively quiet over these months, so by encouraging engagement and activity you can only be onto a winner. 

 

This article was originally featured in the Winter 2022 edition of BII News, to read our latest issues and to look through the back catalogue of information available, click here.

 


Government Support for Pubs

With the recent announcements from Government, and the continuous media speculation about the spread of Omicron across the UK, the key Christmas trading period has now been lost for many of you. All this at a time when you needed to maximise on every opportunity, filling your pubs with festive parties, dinner bookings and welcoming groups of friends and families to reconnect with each other.

Dear BII Members,

I wanted to write to you as we reach the last few days before Christmas, to update you on our actions at this critical time for your businesses.

The festive season represents, for many pubs, almost a quarter of your annual profits in a very short space of time, no matter what type of venue you run. Not only has trade been lost through reduced footfall & cancellations of large parties, you have also been left with fridges full of food and cellars stocked with beer in preparation for welcoming your customers at this vital time of year.

Regardless of the fact that our venues have not been mandated to close, the impact of the caution urged by the Prime Minister and his officials around socialising has been devastating for the hospitality sector in particular. Similarly, the tightening of restrictions developing in the devolved nations, has seen our Welsh and Scottish members heavily impacted.

We know from our survey last week, that the fall in revenue in comparison to 2019 has been drastic for the majority of members, and even since that report, we have seen a continued decline in visits to your pubs, as the public return to working from home once more.

The cash flow crisis in this short space of time cannot be underestimated. You prepared your kitchens, cellars and staff for the busiest period of trading, to help build your resilience into the quieter winter months, and are now left with severely reduced income.

We have been in constant communication with Ministers and officials across all areas of Government, taking your collective voice, but also your individual stories of business fragility, to call for the support that will be needed to enable your businesses to survive and begin your recovery once more in 2022.

We are encouraged by the support announced today by the Chancellor, recognising once more that your pubs are being disproportionately impacted, but are fully aware that this does not compensate you for the lost revenues over the Christmas trading period. Initial announcements are:

  • Businesses in the hospitality and leisure sectors in England will be eligible for one-off grants of up to £6,000 per premises, plus more than £100 million discretionary funding will be made available for local authorities to support other businesses.
  • Government will also cover the cost of Statutory Sick Pay for Covid-related absences for small and medium-sized employers across the UK.

The grants will be based on rateable value as with previous deliveries: 

  • Up to £15k rateable value - £2.7k
  • Up to £51k rateable value - £4k
  • Over £51k rateable value - £6k

As ever, the delivery of any support is key in terms of speed and scale, and we are calling on Government to ensure that the cash grants are delivered automatically to venues who have already met the criteria previously set.

We will continue to push hard for your venues to stay open, allowing you to continue to trade freely and fully and we will also be ensuring that the case for medium term support continues to be prioritised, including, but not limited to: 

  • Full suspension of Business rates – the lost revenues from December trading means that many will have no funds to pay business rates, even at the reduced rate announced in the Chancellor’s Autumn Budget.
  • Continued VAT reduction at 12.5% needed through to Summer 2022 at least – whilst hugely helpful for food led venues whilst you are trading, this reduction must now be in place for longer to enable you time to feel the benefit when trade returns to your pubs.

Amidst the huge uncertainty facing your pubs at this time, we want you to know we are doing all we can to support you, both with Government and also with clear, actionable information as and when we have more clarity about any potential restrictions.

Our team have pulled together Support Guides for England, Scotland and Wales, and we have FAQs, all of which are being constantly updated as we get more information to help you navigate the current situation.

We are awaiting the official guidance from Government so that we can give you the detail you will need to claim the grants.

If you don’t already do so, please follow us on social media to get the most up-to-date information as and when we have it. Links for all of our platforms can be seen below.

Our offices will be closed over Christmas, but we will continue to support you remotely via our Expert Helplines and online over the festive period.

Steven Alton

 BII CEO

BII Welcomes Chancellor's Support for Pubs This Christmas

The Chancellor has today announced further immediate support for Great British Pubs, with cash grants to ease the devastating impact of reduced Christmas trade.

Amongst the support being given are the following:

  • Businesses in the hospitality and leisure sectors in England will be eligible for one-off grants of up to £6,000 per premises, plus more than £100 million discretionary funding will be made available for local authorities to support other businesses.
  • Government will also cover the cost of Statutory Sick Pay for Covid-related absences for small and medium-sized employers across the UK.
  • £30 million further funding will be made available through the Culture Recovery Fund, enabling more cultural organisations in England to apply for support during the winter.

Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak said:

“We recognise that the spread of the Omicron variant means businesses in the hospitality and leisure sectors are facing huge uncertainty, at a crucial time. So we’re stepping in with £1 billion of support, including a new grant scheme, the reintroduction of the Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme and further funding released through the Culture Recovery Fund.

“Ultimately the best thing we can do to support businesses is to get the virus under control, so I urge everyone to Get Boosted Now.”

Steven Alton BII CEO said:

“It is encouraging to see the Chancellor once again recognising the unique part that pubs play in both the economy and in every community. The support he has announced is hugely welcomed as our members running pubs across the UK are now struggling to pay the bills with reduced levels of trade. They are facing increased costs through inflation and with most of our members having built up over £50,000 of pandemic specific debts, they now have extensive debt repayments to be made.

“Critical to their short term survival is cash flow and this support in the form of cash grants is hugely welcomed. They will however, now need ongoing support particularly with business rates and an extended period of low VAT as their recovery will be significantly extended due to the lost trade from Christmas.”

Steven Alton

BII CEO

British Institute of Innkeeping releases devastating results of Christmas Trading survey and calls for immediate support to safeguard the future of our nations’ pubs

The BII has today released the results of its survey of members since the announcement from the Prime Minister last week.

The country’s move to Plan B in England and the announcement of further measures for the devolved nations has had an immediate and devastating impact on the level of trade in our nations’ pubs with cancellations of bookings and a drop in footfall across the whole of the UK, at a time where operators needed to be building resilience back into their businesses ahead of the quieter winter months.

The survey, which saw over 500 licensee operators feeding in their experiences, shows trade falling dramatically for a large number of pubs in light of the caution urged by Government around the transmissibility of the Omicron variant.

Even without restrictions being placed on our vibrant pubs, vital for social connection and the mental health of communities across the UK, their businesses have been plunged into uncertainty once more.

78% of respondents reported trade as already being significantly down on 2019 levels with two thirds reporting that Christmas bookings have been cancelled and half seeing a reduction in size of bookings. 

2 in 3 have seen a reduction in trade of more than 20% against 2019 levels and of those 1 in 3 are seeing revenue down by over 40%.

Operational Impact
76% are having to reduce staff hours, but more worryingly, almost 1 in 4 are already saying they will be letting staff go. 53% are having to reduce their trading hours and half of respondents have seen significant levels of food waste with stock ordered in to cope with the seasonal demands, now useless.

Our professionally managed venues had already put in place a raft of measures to reassure their customers that they were safe places to socialise, with 47% saying staff were wearing masks and 30% already limiting the number of bookings they were taking.

Having built up an average of over £50k of debt per pub over the course of the pandemic, licensees are now facing a cliff edge for their businesses, with the trade that they were relying on to help them rebuild after the disruption and uncertainty of the past 2 years, now gone. 

Even since the results of the survey earlier this week, members are now reporting huge increases in cancellations of 75% or more, leaving them with food they cannot sell and staff they cannot afford to pay. 

Steven Alton, CEO of the BII said:

“The immediate and devastating impact of the Prime Minister’s announcements over the past few days is now clear to see. Our members run welcoming and professional venues where people can safely socialise and reconnect in their communities. 

“Often, these small businesses are run by families, who live in their pubs, and they are now facing a Christmas without the trade that they so desperately needed to begin their recovery. This presents an immediate cash flow crisis for our members who have invested heavily in the festive season and now simply won’t be able to pay their bills.

“Whilst most of these viable businesses have built up debts over the pandemic to ensure they can survive, many more have cashed in pensions, emptied their savings accounts and borrowed from friends and family on the basis that they can trade at pre-pandemic levels. These are people at the heart of their communities, but more than that, they are key employers in towns, high streets and rural locations across the UK, and have contributed huge amounts of tax to the treasury. 

“They now need immediate support from Government to enable them to remain as those community pillars, providing that unique experience for people to come together and celebrate, commiserate and connect as human beings. 

“We need support for these essential businesses, now, not in the New Year, as quite simply they will not survive without it. Our members have asked for vital support in the form of the reintroduction of grants, a continuation of the lower rate of VAT and a cancellation of business rates.

“The support and recognition that Government has given to them over the course of the pandemic was key to their survival, but without further and immediate support this Christmas, the investment in these businesses will be wasted and we will see widespread business failure.

“We are calling on the Chancellor to protect his investment and the unique heritage that pubs bring to the UK with an emergency package of measures in line with those seen at the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis.”

The full survey results can be seen by following the link below
https://bit.ly/3F1BDKP 
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