Pub giant Greene King to axe 800 jobs and shut dozens of pubs as Covid curfew bites

79 Greene King pubs and Loch Fyne restaurants will close, around one-third of which are not expected to reopen. Credit: PA

Pub giant Greene King has said it plans to cut around 800 jobs and shut dozens of pubs after trade slumped following the 10pm Covid hospitality curfew.

The company said it will keep 79 of its sites shut for the time being, with around one third of these closures expected to be permanent.

Greene King, which was bought by a Hong-Kong real estate giant last year, is one of the UK’s biggest hospitality firms, with 3,100 pubs, restaurants and hotels across the UK.

From September 24, pubs, bars and restaurants have had to close their doors at 10pm in a bid to stem the rising tide of coronavirus cases.

Social distancing measures means hospitality venues cannot have as many people in their establishments as before the pandemic, while the rule of six also means large groups cannot be catered for.

The coronavirus curfew means hospitality businesses must shut their doors at 10pm. Credit: PA

A spokesperson for Greene King called on the government to provide "tailored" support to the hospitality sector which has been hard-hit my tougher coronavirus measures.

“The continued tightening of the trading restrictions for pubs, which may last another six months, along with the changes to government support was always going to make it a challenge to reopen some of our pubs," the spokesperson said.

“Therefore, we have made the difficult decision not to reopen 79 sites, including the 11 Loch Fyne restaurants we announced last week.

“Around one-third will be closed permanently and we hope to be able to reopen the others in the future.

“We are working hard with our teams to try and find them a role in another of our pubs wherever possible.

“We urgently need the government to step in and provide tailored support to help the sector get through to the spring and prevent further pub closures and job losses.”

The hospitality industry has been hard-hit by the 10pm curfew. Credit: PA

The announcement comes after warnings from pub, restaurant and bar bosses that the curfew and other restrictions will result in swathes of job losses across the sector.

Last week, the boss of rival Fuller’s said that around one-tenth of its almost-5,000 employees could face redundancy without further state support.

The bosses of London-focused groups Young’s and City Pub Group also warned that they might have to axe hundreds of roles when furlough ends later this month.