Adnams brewery boss says sector lost 50% of Christmas trade

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Chief executive of Adnams brewery Andy Wood said "dark months" were ahead for the hospitality industry

A brewery boss said the sector had lost about 50% of its Christmas custom amid concerns over the Omicron variant.

Andy Wood, chief executive of Adnams, said the hospitality industry was facing the "economic equivalent of long Covid".

The brewery, which is based in Southwold, Suffolk, owns 50 pubs and hotels and supplies many others.

Mr Wood urged the government to provide the industry with "clarity and consistency".

"We need that so we can rebuild consumer confidence but also have the confidence ourselves so we can invest in our businesses again," he said.

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Mr Wood said the industry was "working hard" to make sure all their premises were "Covid secure"

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Mr Wood described the festive season as a "lifeline" that helped the hospitality sector through "the dark months of January, February and March".

"There is going to need to be government support," he said.

"We have lost most of Christmas where the industry usually makes cash that sees it through January, February and March.

"The coffers are empty. This is an industry that has been in and out of lockdown and restrictions for 22 months now - it really hasn't had a chance to rebuild profits and loss accounts and balance sheets.

"It is suffering the economic equivalent of long Covid."

Mr Wood said to help the sector in the short-term the government could continue with the VAT reduction, while in the long-term it could look at "structural realignment of business rates".

He said there had been a 50% drop in visitors to pubs and hotels after the chief medical officer for England, Prof Chris Whitty, urged people to be cautious about socialising.

A HM Treasury spokesperson said: "We've supported people's jobs and incomes throughout the pandemic through our £400bn package of support, and will continue to do so through our additional £1bn support package for the hospitality and leisure sector.

"Hospitality businesses are also still benefitting from a 75% cut in business rates over the year, reduced VAT, eviction protection, government-backed loans, Time to Pay and our reintroduced Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme."

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