Happy hour! Wetherspoon pushes back last orders by an hour from next week as chain reopens 136 more pubs after lockdown restrictions eased
- A further 44 pubs in England will open for business from April 26, totalling 438
- Wetherspoon will also be opening 60 of its pubs in Scotland and 32 in Wales
- New pub openings include those in Swansea, Reading, Lincoln, and London
Wetherspoon will open more of its pubs across the country next week and will extend opening times by an hour as the easing of the lockdown continues, the company has announced.
A further 44 pubs in England with smaller beer gardens and outdoor areas are set to open for business from April 26, adding to the 394 which opened last week.
The new pub openings include branches in Guildford, Ilkeston, Lincoln, Morecambe, Camborne, Driffield, Nottingham and Reading, and London.
All pubs remaining shut have no viable outdoor space to accommodate customers at this time, a spokesman for Wetherspoon said.
Wetherspoon will also go ahead with opening 60 of its pubs in Scotland and 32 in Wales next week and three pubs in Northern Ireland on April 30.
The John Fancis Basset, Camborne, set to open April 26
Eric Bartholomew, Morecambe, set to open April 26
The Rodboro Buildings, Guilford, set to open April 26
Beer giant Heineken has said UK sales by volume plunged by around 30 per cent in the first three months of 2021 as pubs remained shut during the lockdown.
The Dutch brewer said UK on-trade sales were close to zero in the three months to the end of March, which even surging off-trade sales – up by a ‘low-30s’ percentage – could not offset.
This contributed to an overall 9.7 per cent fall in beer sales by volume across Europe in the quarter.
But Heineken – which also brews brands including Birra Moretti, Sol and Amstel – said that, across the wider group, beer volumes were in line with a year earlier when the pandemic first struck, thanks to strong growth in Africa and Asia.
The result was 2.1 per cent below the first quarter of 2019.
Net profits soared 79 per cent to 168 million euros (£144.9 million) year on year in the first quarter, but were 44 per cent lower than the same period in 2019.
Chairman and chief executive Dolf van den Brink said: ‘We had a solid start to the year, despite facing severe restrictions across many markets and the closure of the on-trade in Europe due to the pandemic.’
The group is axing 8,000 jobs globally – almost 10 per cent of its 85,000 staff – as part of efforts to save cash in the face of the pandemic.
The swingeing cuts were announced in February as the group revealed it swung to a net loss of 204 million euros (£176 million) in 2020, compared with a 2.2 billion euro (£1.9 billion) profit the previous year.
In its latest update, Heineken said less than 30 per cent of the European on-trade market was operating at the start of April.
But, with English pubs reopening their beer gardens on April 12 and other countries beginning to follow suit, it said trade should begin to bounce back.
The group said: ‘Our business continues to be significantly impacted by the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic.
‘We expect market conditions to gradually improve into the second part of the year, depending on the rollout of vaccines.’
The group said its flagship Heineken brand had a better first quarter, with sales up 12.1 per cent and double-digit growth seen in 40 countries.
It added that it has continued to support pubs affected by restrictions, waiving 19 million euros (£16.4 million) of rental payments for UK customers.
William Ryder, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: ‘Heineken’s first quarter paints a mixed picture, which is to be expected as Covid-19 is still having a varied impact around the world.
‘Tough restrictions and successful vaccination programmes now may unleash stronger trading down the line.
‘Meanwhile, another wave of infections may mean regions that are performing well at the moment could be forced to impose more restrictions in the future.’
It will result in 533 of the company’s 871 pubs being open.
From April 26 all Wetherspoon pubs, including those that opened on April 12 with reduced opening hours, will be staying open for an hour longer each day.
Pubs in England will be open from 9am to 10pm (Sunday to Thursday inclusive) and 9am to 11pm (Friday and Saturday), although some have restrictions on closing times and in those cases will close earlier.
Since opening on April 12 the Wetherspoon pubs have been opening for the reduced hours of 9am until 9pm (Sunday to Thursday) and from 9am until 10pm (Friday to Saturday).
Customers will be able to enter the pubs to gain access to the outside area and also to use toilets.
They will offer a slightly reduced menu, with food available from 9am to 8pm seven days a week.
Customers will be able to order and pay through the Wetherspoon app, and staff will be able to take orders and payment at the table.
The pubs will not be operating a booking system.
Wetherspoon chief executive John Hutson said: ‘We are looking forward to opening the extra pubs in England as well as those in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
‘We look forward to welcoming our customers and staff back to our pubs.’
From April 26 hospitality venues in Scotland can open until 8pm indoors – but without alcohol – and 10pm outdoors.
In Wales hospitality will also be allowed to reopen outdoors from Monday.
The news comes as the boss of one of the country’s largest pub chains said drinkers are returning to watering holes in greater numbers than predicted.
Shepherd Neame chief executive Jonathan Neame said that the brewer reopened more than 200 pubs from last Monday, around two thirds of its total.
Mr Neame said: ‘Many customers have returned to our pubs in the first week to enjoy great hospitality in a relaxed and safe environment. Although it is early days, trade levels so far have been above expectation.’
By the time all Shepherd Neame’s pubs reopen indoors in less than a month from now, according to the Government’s current road map, they will have been shut for 297 out of the last 423 days.
‘Inevitably this has had a severe impact on our numbers during this time,’ the chief executive said.
As a result, the company swung to a £7.2 million pre-tax loss in the last six months of 2020. It had made a £5.4 million profit a year earlier.
Turnover in the same period dropped 30 per cent to £55.3 million.
The period included the summer reopening, including the Eat Out To Help Out scheme in August, which helped boost dining establishments.
Shepherd Neame was able to stave off some problems by increasing sales of bottled beer from its brewery by more than a quarter.
That way, and by controlling costs, it was able to restrict the amount of cash it was burning through each month when pubs were closed from £2 million to £1.5 million.
The company also claimed £5.7 million in Government support, including the furlough scheme, business grants and business rates relief.
However, trading has been encouraging since reopening, and like pubs across the country, Shepherd Neame hopes it can tap into a market full of pubgoers who have not been able to visit their local for several months.
Mr Neame said: ‘There is significant pent-up demand in the economy. The consumer savings ratio is at high levels, and all indications are that the demand for events, for festivals, for live sport, for going out for a meal and for socialising with friends is as strong as ever.’
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s roadmap out of lockdown, with indoor hospitality expected to reopen May 17 in England
Founder and Chairman of JD Wetherspoon, Tim Martin, who has criticised the Government’s handling of the pandemic. Pictured: October 2020
He added: ‘Furthermore, with the ongoing restrictions in place on international travel, most people will choose to holiday in the UK this year. As a result, we believe that our recovery will be strong through late summer and autumn 2021.’
Last month JD Wetherspoon revealed it had registered a heavy drop in sales and a £52.8million pre-tax loss in its last six-month period as pub chains were devastated by the coronavirus pandemic.
Revenue at the Watford-based company dropped by nearly 54 per cent to £431million in the half year to the end of January, even as pubs were allowed to reopen, albeit under restrictions, for part of that time.
The Mount Stuart, Cardiff, set to open April 26
The Last Post, Southend, Essex, set to open April 26
Skylark, Croydon, London, set to open April 26
Lady Chatterley, Eastwood, Nottinghamshire, set to open April 26
Goodmans Field, east London, set to open April 26
Fall Well, Liverpool, set to open April 26
To help get through the crisis, Wetherspoon has tapped into the Government’s furlough scheme, claiming more than £97million in the half year.
It also took a loan from the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme in August last year, and agreed a second CBILS loan of nearly £52million last month, Wetherspoon said.
Its chairman Tim Martin, who has criticised the Government’s handling of the pandemic, said the future of the industry depended on a ‘consistent set of sensible policies’ and the ending of lockdowns and tier systems.
The company, which posted its first annual loss since 1984 in fiscal year 2020, has had to cut hundreds of jobs and ask investors for money twice, to get through the pandemic.
People get into the party spirit outside Wetherspoon’s Turls Green pub in Centenary Square, Bradford, West Yorkshire, as it opened on April 12
People waiting to get into their local Wetherspoon pub for first drinks of the day in Bournemouth town centre, Dorset, on April 12
Crowds line up to enter a Wetherspoon in Bournemouth, Dorset, on April 12
Wetherspoon pubs opening from April 26:
Additional venues opening in England from April 26:
Amber Rooms, Loughborough
Benjamin Fawcett, Driffield
Butter Cross, Bingham
Columbia Press, Watford
Eric Bartholomew, Morecambe
Fall Well, Liverpool
Friar Penketh, Warrington
Gate Clock, Greenwich
Goodmans Field, London
Grey Friar, Preston
High Main, Byker
Holland Tringham, Streatham
Hope & Champion, Beaconsfield
Hope Tap, Reading
Ivy Wall, Spalding
John Francis Basset, Camborne
Lady Chatterley, Eastwood
Last Post, Southend
Lord John, Stroud
Mail Rooms, Ross On Wye
Man in the Wall, Wimborne
Mockbeggar Hall, Birkenhead
MUW, Leicester Square
Old Market Hall, Mexborough
Red Lion, Skegness
Reginald Mitchell, Hanley
Richard John, Blackler
Rising Sun, Redditch
Rockingham Arms, Elephant & Castle
Rodboro Buildings, Guildford
Rupert Brooke, Rugby
Six Gold Marlets, Burgess Hill
Square Sail, Lincoln
Swan Inn, Weymouth
Thomas Sheraton, Stockton
Three Magnets, Letchworth
Trent Bridge Inn, West Bridgford
Wetherspoons, Milton Keynes
William Jameson, Sunderland
Venues opening in Scotland from April 26:
Alexander Bain, Wick
Alexander Graham Bell, Edinburgh
An Ruadh Ghlean, Rutherglen
Archibald Simpson, Aberdeen
Auld Brig, Irvine
Bobbing John, Alloa
Booking Office, Edinburgh Waverley Station
Brandon Works, Motherwell
Caley Picture House, Edinburgh
Capital Asset, Perth
Captain James Lang, Dumbarton
Carrick Stone, Cumbernauld
Carron Works, Falkirk
Corn Exchange, Arbroath
Counting House, Dundee
Counting House, Glasgow
Cross Keys, Peebles
Cross Keys, Peterhead
Crossed Peels, Stirling
Crystal Palace, Glasgow
David MacBeth Moir, Mussleburgh
Esquire House, Anniesland
Fair O-Blair, Blairgowrie
Foot of the Walk, Leith
Golden Acorn, Glenrothes
Gordon Highlander, Inverurie
Great Glen, Fort William
Guildhall and Linen Exchange, Dunfermline
Hay Stook, East Kilbride
Hengler’s Circus, Glasgow
Henry Bell, Helensburgh
Hunters Hall, Galashiels
James Watt, Greenock
John Fairweather, Cambuslang
Jollys Hotel, Broughty Ferry
Justice Mill, Aberdeen
King’s Highway, Inverness
Kirky Puffer, Kirkintilloch
Last Post, Paisley
Lord of the Isles, Glasgow
Muckle Cross, Elgin
Paddle Steamer, Largs
Priest Pioneer, Prestwick
Robert Nairn, Kirkcaldy
Robert The Bruce, Dumfries
Salt Cot, Saltcoates
Saltoun Inn, Fraserburgh
Sir John Moore, Glasgow
Sir John Stirling Maxwell, Glasgow
Society Room, Glasgow
Standing Order, Edinburgh
West Kirk, Ayr
Wheatsheaf Inn, Kilmarnock
White Lady, Corstorphine
Wishaw Malt, Wishaw
Venues opening in Wales from April 26:
Aneurin Bevan, Cardiff
Bank Statement, Swansea
Black Boy, Newtown
Black Bull Inn, Bangor
Castle Hotel, Ruthin
Central Bar, Cardiff
Central Hotel, Shotton
Ernest Willows, Cardiff
George Hotel, Brecon
Godfrey Morgan, Newport
Gold Cape, Mold
Great Western, Cardiff
John Fielding, Cwmbran
King’s Head, Monmouth
Mardy Inn, Swansea
Mount Stuart, Cardiff
Potters Wheel, Swansea
Red Lion Inn, Swansea
Sawyer’s Arms, Maesteg
Sir Samuel Romilly, Barry
Tafarn Y Porth, Caernarfon
Tumble Inn, Pontypridd
William Owen, Haverfordwest
Y Dic Penderyn, Merthyr Tydfil
Yr Hen Orsaf, Aberystwyth
Yr Ieuan Ap Iago, Aberdare
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