BII members share trading experience

The British Institute of Innkeeping has released the results of its latest survey of members.

The British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) has released the results of its latest survey of members, detailing their experiences around reopening and the financial realities of trading while restrictions remain in place.

Despite the vast majority of pubs across the UK now being open, they are still facing a huge number of issues as they try to rebuild their businesses alongside trading restrictions - 74% of survey respondents are trading at less than 75% when compared to 2019, meaning they are loss-making or breaking even at best.

Staffing continues to be one of the main challenges since reopening, with 53% saying they cannot recruit enough staff to cope with the additional workload created by Covid restrictions, and 35% say they have lost staff as soon as they have returned from furlough. 

A surprising 67% say that a lack of public understanding about the constantly changing rules and regulations for indoor vs outdoor visits has put more pressure on staff to effectively communicate and manage customer visits.

Debts from the pandemic

To enable their survival over the course of the pandemic and the months of closures for their pubs, nearly 60% of licensees have had to take a Bounce Back loan to survive, and 24% still have unpaid rent debt that they are now also facing.

Almost 50% have pandemic-specific debts of over £20,000 per pub and despite using reserves, in many cases using savings and borrowing from pensions, half of these have debts of between £40,000 and £80,000 per pub.

The BII has predicted that without restrictions fully lifted, enabling them to trade freely and fully from 21 June, 11% of businesses will fail, 43% will be loss-making and will continue to take further debt, while 34% will only manage to break even with current regulations in place.

What more is needed?

When asked about support that they need in place for their businesses to remain sustainable as they trade again free of restrictions, licensees highlighted the following:

  • Over 80% say an extension of a full business rate reduction until April 2022 for England, in line with the other devolved nations, is necessary or business critical, while 89% say a full and fundamental reform of the rates system for pubs is needed to rebalance the burden with the digital economy and other sectors.
  • To support the strong trading they will need to drive their recovery, 89% say that the current VAT reduction to 5% needs to be extended until April 2022, with the same number calling for a specific cut in duty for draught products in pubs.
  • Finally, 60% say they need help from government with the rent debt from the pandemic, with 66% calling for further support from their landlords - 70% say there is a need for further grant support to help them rebuild their businesses.

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