Pubs chain welcomes fresh help for hospitality trade

A Black Country-based pubs group has welcomed the fresh package of help for businesses announced yesterday by Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

Angus McMeeking at BCA's Old Bulls Head, Lower Gornal
Angus McMeeking at BCA's Old Bulls Head, Lower Gornal

Pensnett-based Black Country Ales director Angus McMeeking said that the business was looking at the detail of the winter economy plan to see how it could help its brewing and pubs operation.

He said the delay in implementing an increase on the five per cent VAT rate, covering food and non-alcoholic beverages sold for on-premises consumption, would help.

"This has come at a time when we need every bit of help we can get," he said.

He added that BCA, which has 38 pubs including two at Shrewsbury and Shifnal, was not currently likely to make use of the new jobs support scheme, but might be helped by the new arrangement to defer tax bills and extend re-payments.

"Trading has been better than expected after reopening for pubs outside town centres where it has been tough.

"It could be a lot worse and we are better off than many businesses and should be grateful for that," he added.

He said that staff at pubs and in administration that had been furloughed were back.

"The furlough system was a life saver for us. The Government did a great job by introducing it," added Mr McMeeking.

"I really think that there are still businesses that are in a lot of immediate trouble, but at heart they are good businesses and if they can get through this next period there is no reason why they shouldn't thrive again.

"It is a great idea to offer the deferment on tax payments," he added.

Mr McMeeking said that the new 10pm curfew and table service had just been introduced at all of the BCA pubs.

"Hopefully we will do it well and there will be no problems.

"Figures show that hospitality has been a very safe area in terms of spread of Covid. We need to maintain that and keep people's confidence high that going to a pub is entirely safe and can still be enjoyed," explained Mr McMeeking.

BCA's two pubs in Leicester were able to reopen last month after reopening was delayed by fresh lockdown measures.

The business is also set to open its 39th pub in Amblecote in time for Christmas. It has just bought The Starving Rascal in Brettell Lane, which is to undergo refurbishment before it starts operation.

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