Greene King close 79 pubs and restaurants and ‘axe 800 jobs’


Hundreds of jobs will be lost and scores of pubs shut down by Greene King after the 10pm coronavirus curfew and lockdown decimated custom. 

The company, which has more than 3,000 pubs across the country – today started a consultation with 800 employees about a redundancy process.

Bosses at the Suffolk-based firm, which has nearly 1,700 managed pubs and 1,000 tenanted venues, wants to redeploy affected staff wherever possible.

It has decided to keep 79 pubs and restaurants shut and warned one third of them will be permanent, but refused to tell MailOnline which locations were under threat. 

It comes as pubs, restaurants and cafes in most of Scotland were barred from selling alcohol indoors for more than two weeks as part of efforts to curb Covid-19.

The cuts at Greene King mean 210,781 job losses have now been announced by major British employers since the start of the coronavirus lockdown in March. 

Greene King CEO Nick Mackenzie had warned the 10pm curfew would threaten pubs

Boris Johnson's 10pm curfew has seen streets and businesses deserted in major cities

Boris Johnson’s 10pm curfew has seen streets and businesses deserted in major cities

A Greene King spokesman said: ‘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.

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

Benjamin Greene: The 19th Century brewer who held 231 slaves

Benjamin Greene

Benjamin Greene

Greene King traces its links to slavery to its founder, Benjamin Greene, who records show held at least 231 on Caribbean islands.  

Born in 1780 in Northamptonshire, Greene moved to Bury St Edmonds, Suffolk, where in 1806 he founded what would become the UK’s largest brewery. 

He inherited plantations in the West Indies from Sir Patrick Blake, 2nd Baronet, upon his death.

In 1828, he bought the Bury and Suffolk Herald, at a time when the campaign to abolish slavery was being debated.

In his role as a newspaper proprietor, Greene used the pages of the broadsheet to ferociously oppose abolition.

According to his Oxford biography, he campaigned with ‘enormous vigour into representing the interests of the West Indian slave proprietors at a critical juncture of their affairs.’

His opposition to abolition saw him become a figure of controversy in Suffolk, and in 1837 he moved to London where he founded Benjamin Greene & Son – West Indian ship merchants – with his son in Russell Square.

Despite Greene’s protestations, MPs passed the Slavery Abolition Bill in 1833, on the condition that slave-owners were compensated for freeing their slaves.

Records archived by UCL show Greene claimed the modern equivalent of £500,000 for 231 slaves in the West Indies.

The claim forms show Greene received:  

January 23, 1836 – £2,672 for 156 slaves on St Kitts

February 27, 1836 – £1,262 for 69 slaves on St Kitts 

February 29, 1836 – £98 for six slaves on Monsterrat      

‘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 devastating news about the company – which is owned by Hong Kong business CK Asset Holdings – was first revealed by Sky News.

Greene King chief executive Nick Mackenzie had warned two weeks ago the curfew would be a disaster for the pub industry.

He said at the time: ‘Pubs are just starting to get back on their feet after lockdown and these new restrictions are a significant setback.

‘We urgently need the Government to extend the furlough scheme for hospitality venues and confirm what additional support it will provide to protect jobs and the future of pubs.

‘We made safety our priority when reopening and fewer than one per cent of our 1,700 managed pubs have been contacted by NHS Test and Trace since reopening in July, which demonstrates pubs are not disproportionately spreading cases and our measures are working.

‘Removing a key trading period and further damaging customer confidence looks set to cost us several million pounds per week, on top of already reduced customer numbers in our pubs to maintain social distancing.

‘Given these restrictions and likely timescales, we need support from the Government to avoid further job losses in the hospitality sector in addition to the 135,000 so far.’

The news comes just days after the boss of another of the UK’s big pub chains said he could have to lay of 500 staff.

Fuller’s chief executive Simon Emeny said people working from home during the pandemic had seen demand dry up.

He said: ‘We are doing everything possible to minimise that, but sadly it is inevitable.

‘The biggest challenge we have around job losses is in central London, because the current Prime Minister’s announcement last week to discourage people from going back to the office is having a big impact on city centres and in particular Central London. 

‘There are elements of the Prime Minister’s job that I don’t envy him but I also think there are significant elements where he has made continual mistakes and we have seen the government do U-turns on five or six key decisions.’

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. 

Greene King currently has 3,000 pubs across the country but says it is closing 79

Greene King currently has 3,000 pubs across the country but says it is closing 79

Greene King was founded in 1799 by Benjamin Greene who went on to own sugar plantations in the West Indies. Pictured: The pub headquarters in Abbot House in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk

Greene King was founded in 1799 by Benjamin Greene who went on to own sugar plantations in the West Indies. Pictured: The pub headquarters in Abbot House in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk

Prime Minister Boris Johnson was challenged over the 10pm curfew in the Commons today

Prime Minister Boris Johnson was challenged over the 10pm curfew in the Commons today

In Scotland, it was announced today that five health board areas – Greater Glasgow & Clyde, Lanarkshire, Ayrshire & Arran, Lothian, and Forth Valley – face stricter restrictions, with pubs and licenced cafes to shut to all but takeaway customers for more than two weeks. They also be barred from selling alcohol indoors. 

Indoor alcohol sales banned in pubs and cafes across Scotland 

Pubs, restaurants and cafes in most of Scotland are being barred from selling alcohol indoors for more than two weeks as part of efforts to curb Covid-19, Nicola Sturgeon has announced.

Five health board areas – Greater Glasgow & Clyde, Lanarkshire, Ayrshire & Arran, Lothian, and Forth Valley – face stricter restrictions, with pubs and licenced cafes to shut to all but takeaway customers for the same period.

The measures come into force at 6pm on Friday for 16 days until October 25.

People in the five health boards under tougher restrictions have also been asked to avoid public transport unless absolutely necessary in the next two weeks, and use it only when travelling to work, school or for other unavoidable reasons.

While a travel restriction is not being enforced on people in these areas, Ms Sturgeon urged residents not to travel beyond their own health boards, and for those elsewhere in Scotland not to visit them.

Snooker and pool halls, indoor bowling alleys, casinos and bingo halls will close in these areas for two weeks from October 10, with contact sports and indoor group exercise for those 18 and over suspended for the same period.

Outdoor live events will be banned in the five areas for the next two weeks.

 

The measures come into force at 6pm on Friday for 16 days until October 25.

In July Greene King said it had invested £15million into pub safety as it prepared to open to customers once more from July 4.

The pub confirmed tables would be spaced out in line with government regulations and said customers would have to pay using a new Order and Pay app.

The business also said customers would be provided with one-time-use menus that could be disposed of in a sustainable way at the pub and cutlery would be wrapped.

It had also looked to the future and just three days ago announced the launch a programme to raise awareness about slavery after admitting it was ‘inexcusable’ that its founder profited from the transatlantic slave trade.

The pub company said it would team up with the International Slavery Museum in Liverpool to ‘educate people about the shocking human exploitation which took place.’

The Suffolk-based business was founded in 1799 by Benjamin Greene who went on to own sugar plantations in the West Indies where he was a slave owner.

Born in 1780 in Northamptonshire, Benjamin Greene, went on to own three cane sugar plantations in the West Indies after he handed over his brewery company to his son Edward in 1836.

During the 1880s, the brewery founder, who profited from the labour of enslaved Africans, wrote columns in his own newspaper the Bury and Suffolk Herald where he defended his actions against campaigners for the abolition of slavery.

Despite his protestations, MPs finally passed the Slavery Abolition Bill in 1833, on the condition that slave-owners be given compensation for freeing their slaves.

Greene, who had at least 231 slaves, was among 47,000 people who benefited from the compensation and received the equivalent of £500,000 in today’s money.

How more than 210,000 job losses have been revealed by major UK firms since lockdown began 

Some 210,781 job losses have been announced by major British employers since the start of the coronavirus lockdown in March as follows:

  • October 7 – Greene King – 800 
  • October 6 – Virgin Money – 400 
  • October 6 – Vp – 150 
  • October 5 – Cineworld – 5,500 (many cuts likely to be temporary) 
  • September 30 – TSB – 900 
  • September 30 – Shell – 9,000 worldwide 
  • September 29 – Ferguson – 1,200
  • September 22 – Wetherspoon – 400 to 450
  • September 22 – Whitbread – 6,000
  • September 18 – Investec – 210
  • September 15 – Waitrose – 124
  • September 14 – London City Airport – 239
  • September 9 – Lloyds Bank – 865
  • September 9 – Pizza Hut – 450
  • September 4 – Virgin Atlantic – 1,150
  • September 3 – Costa – 1,650
  • August 27 – Pret a Manger – 2,800 (includes 1,000 announced on July 6)
  • August 26 – Gatwick Airport – 600
  • August 25 – Co-operative Bank – 350
  • August 20 – Alexander Dennis – 650
  • August 18 – Bombardier – 95
  • August 18 – Marks & Spencer – 7,000
  • August 14 – Yo! Sushi – 250
  • August 14 – River Island – 350
  • August 12 – NatWest – 550
  • August 11 – InterContinental Hotels – 650 worldwide
  • August 11 – Debenhams – 2,500
  • August 7 – Evening Standard – 115
  • August 6 – Travelex – 1,300
  • August 6 – Wetherspoons – 110 to 130
  • August 5 – M&Co – 380
  • August 5 – Arsenal FC – 55
  • August 5 – WH Smith – 1,500
  • August 4 – Dixons Carphone – 800
  • August 4 – Pizza Express – 1,100 at risk
  • August 3 – Hays Travel – up to 878
  • August 3 – DW Sports – 1,700 at risk
  • July 31 – Byron – 651
  • July 30 – Pendragon – 1,800
  • July 29 – Waterstones – unknown number of head office roles
  • July 28 – Selfridges – 450
  • July 27 – Oak Furnitureland – 163 at risk
  • July 23 – Dyson – 600 in UK, 300 overseas
  • July 22 – Mears – fewer than 200
  • July 20 – Marks & Spencer – 950 at risk
  • July 17 – Azzurri Group (owns Zizzi and Ask Italian) – up to 1,200
  • July 16 – Genting – 1,642 at risk
  • July 16 – Burberry – 150 in UK, 350 overseas
  • July 15 – Banks Mining – 250 at risk
  • July 15 – Buzz Bingo – 573 at risk
  • July 14 – Vertu – 345 July 14 – DFS – up to 200 at risk
  • July 9 – General Electric – 369
  • July 9 – Eurostar – unknown number
  • July 9 – Boots – 4,000
  • July 9 – John Lewis – 1,300 at risk
  • July 9 – Burger King – 1,600 at risk
  • July 7 – Reach (owns Daily Mirror and Daily Express newspapers) – 550
  • July 6 – Pret a Manger – 1,000 at risk
  • July 2 – Casual Dining Group (owns Bella Italia and Cafe Rouge) – 1,909
  • July 1 – SSP (owns Upper Crust) – 5,000 at risk
  • July 1 – Arcadia (owns TopShop) – 500
  • July 1 – Harrods – 700
  • July 1 – Virgin Money – 300
  • June 30 – Airbus – 1,700
  • June 30 – TM Lewin – 600
  • June 30 – Smiths Group – ‘some job losses’
  • June 25 – Royal Mail – 2,000
  • June 24 – Jet2 – 102
  • June 24 – Swissport – 4,556
  • June 24 – Crest Nicholson – 130
  • June 23 – Shoe Zone – unknown number of jobs in head office
  • June 19 – Aer Lingus – 500
  • June 17 – HSBC – unknown number of jobs in UK, 35,000 worldwide
  • June 15 – Jaguar Land Rover – 1,100
  • June 15 – Travis Perkins – 2,500
  • June 12 – Le Pain Quotidien – 200
  • June 11 – Heathrow – at least 500
  • June 11 – Bombardier – 600
  • June 11 – Johnson Matthey – 2,500
  • June 11 – Centrica – 5,000
  • June 10 – Quiz – 93
  • June 10 – The Restaurant Group (owns Frankie and Benny’s) – 3,000
  • June 10 – Monsoon Accessorise – 545
  • June 10 – Everest Windows – 188
  • June 8 – BP – 10,000 worldwide
  • June 8 – Mulberry – 375
  • June 5 – Victoria’s Secret – 800 at risk
  • June 5 – Bentley – 1,000
  • June 4 – Aston Martin – 500
  • June 4 – Lookers – 1,500
  • May 29 – Belfast International Airport – 45
  • May 28 – Debenhams (in second announcement) – ‘hundreds’ of jobs
  • May 28 – EasyJet – 4,500 worldwide
  • May 26 – McLaren – 1,200
  • May 22 – Carluccio’s – 1,000
  • May 21 – Clarks – 900
  • May 20 – Rolls-Royce – 9,000
  • May 20 – Bovis Homes – unknown number
  • May 19 – Ovo Energy – 2,600
  • May 19 – Antler – 164
  • May 15 – JCB – 950 at risk
  • May 13 – Tui – 8,000 worldwide
  • May 12 – Carnival UK (owns P&O Cruises and Cunard) – 450
  • May 11 – P&O Ferries – 1,100 worldwide
  • May 5 – Virgin Atlantic – 3,150
  • May 1 – Ryanair – 3,000 worldwide
  • April 30 – Oasis Warehouse – 1,800
  • April 29 – WPP – unknown number
  • April 28 – British Airways – 12,000
  • April 23 – Safran Seats – 400
  • April 23 – Meggitt – 1,800 worldwide
  • April 21 – Cath Kidston – 900
  • April 17 – Debenhams – 422
  • March 31 – Laura Ashley – 268
  • March 30 – BrightHouse – 2,400 at risk
  • March 27 – Chiquito – 1,500 at risk

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