Northern Ireland

Coronavirus: Beannchor Group temporarily lays off 800 staff

hospitality worker Image copyright Getty Images

The Beannchor Group has announced the temporary layoff of up to 800 staff.

It will also temporarily close most of its portfolio of bars and hotels.

The Dirty Onion and Yard Bird, The National, Bullitt, the Ulster Sports Club and the Park Avenue Hotel, all in Belfast, are among the group's portfolio.

Meanwhile, staff at the Newry-based fit out company MJM Marine have been told that a large number of redundancies are unavoidable.

The news comes as Stormont's Finance Minister unveiled a rates relief package for businesses as the coronavirus crisis deepens.

The Stormont Executive is putting an extra £100m package in place to deal with emergency rates relief in NI.

On Tuesday, the Chancellor announced a significant economic package worth £330bn and said the devolved administrations would receive £3.5bn as part of that spend.

Northern Ireland secretary of state Brandon Lewis later revealed that £640m of that would be made to the Northern Ireland Executive to support its fight against Covid-19.

In a statement, Beannchor's managing director Bill Wolsey said it had been an "emotional and extremely tough decision but if we do not act now, we will not have a business to return to".

"We have made this decision because we feel we have to act responsibly in the best longer term interests of the group and its staff."

'No prospect of new work'

MJM Marine specialises in fitting out cruise liners, a sector devastated by coronavirus.

With the exception of one project all the company's work has been postponed.

The firm's customers have told it there is no prospect of new work for the foreseeable future.

Image caption MJM Group has a track record in cruise ship work

One customer has said that will not be until 2022 at the earliest.

The one outstanding project is due to be completed in April and will only require a small number of staff.

The wider MJM group currently employs around 500 people.

It is understood that up to 300 people are affected in the Marine division.

The family-run business, founded by Brian McConville, was established in 1983.

It's most recent accounts for 2018 showed a £17m pre tax profit on turnover of £100m.

Rates holiday

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has as said many businesses in Great Britain will get a rates holiday for the next 12 months.

Rates are devolved and therefore the Stormont administration has had to come up with its own plan to relieve the pressure on businesses.

Domestic rates bills will also be deferred from April until June, under the plan announced on Tuesday evening.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionStormont Finance Minister to 'target the most struggling' with help

Mr Murphy said deferring the issue of rates bills from April until June would help businesses with their short-term cash flow.

In addition to the measures for businesses, Mr Murphy also announced the deferral of rate bills for households until June.

Meanwhile, UK trade experts have warned most businesses do not have insurance cover to compensate them for coronavirus losses.

Small businesses, in particular, are unlikely to have such a policy.

Business interruption cover is generally sold to compensate for damage to premises, following instances such as fire and flood.

The Association of British Insurers said standard policies did not include forced closure by the authorities.

More on this story