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Welsh hospitality warns of 30,000 jobs at risk

Morgan Arcade, Cardiff. Photo credit: Rhys Gregory

A survey of more than 100 independent pubs, cafes, restaurants and event caterers has estimated that at least 30,000 job losses are expected in the Welsh hospitality sector – and nearly half of these have already happened.

The survey was carried out by the Welsh Independent Restaurant Collective on Saturday 4th and Sunday 5th July, and came as pubs, cafes and restaurants reopened in England, and Scotland announced that the re-opening inside will begin on July 15th.

Wales remains the only UK nation yet to give a date for inside opening.

The survey revealed that within the 102 businesses that responded, 434 jobs had already been lost, with a further 452 planned – giving a total of 886 job losses from just that sample. Multiplied by the scale of the sector in Wales, and the total number of jobs losses is estimated to be in excess of 30,000.

On Monday, the First Minister placed the Welsh hospitality sector on probation, saying that the prospect for an indoor reopening date depends on its ability to open safely in the outdoors from the 13th July.

However, only 32% of the businesses surveyed last weekend indicated that they will be able to open on an outside only-basis, with a previous WIRC survey indicating that most expect to generate less than 25% of their usual turnover.

Essentially, there will be very few hospitality businesses in Wales who will even be able to cover their opening costs on the current ‘outside only’ basis that has been outlined.

Simon Wright – restaurateur, food writer, broadcaster and founding member of the Welsh Independent Restaurant Collective – said, “The sector urgently requires a date that allows us to trade indoors this summer  – like the rest of the UK – to give us a chance to retain some employment into Winter 2020/21 and towards summer 2021.  There is a rapidly disappearing window of summer opportunity as we head towards August.”

Hospitality Key Component of Local and Rural Economies

In the most recent survey conducted by the WIRC, 80% of the respondents said that more than 50% of their expenditure was spent with other Welsh businesses; more than 50% put that figure in excess of 75%.

Simon explained, “A whole ecosystem has grown up around independent hospitality – ranging from agriculture and growers, to high quality food producers, brewers, maintenance contractors, and professional services. All of this in addition to the vital role our sector plays in supporting sustainable practices, and in persuading people to visit – and stay – in Wales.”

Simon continued, “As a collective, we understand that Welsh Government doesn’t have the power to control the key levers of the economy, and in that respect we ask them to redouble their efforts with the UK Government on issues such as furlough, VAT and sharing of the rent burden.

At the same time, we are pressing Welsh Government to understand the catastrophic collapse that is already happening, and to direct more of the resources that they do have to its survival.”

The Welsh Independent Restaurant Collective has repeatedly stated that the sector wants to work together with Welsh Government and others to be creative in meeting the formidable challenges ahead, and they expect to come forward with proposals in that respect later this week.

About the Welsh Independent Restaurant Collective

The Welsh Independent Restaurant Collective is made up of representatives from more than 300 of Wales’ independent restaurants and hospitality businesses.

Since its inception just a month or so ago, the WIRC has been consistently warning of the cost to the economy, jobs and livelihoods that will be the result of the failure to set a clear path to reopening.

As a collective, the WIRC also understands that the sector must shoulder much of the burden – but urges the First Minister once again to reflect on the scale of collapse in the sector. They are asking the Welsh Government to urgently provide a date for reopening inside, and to consider innovative ways of getting emergency support to the sector – and the large community of Welsh businesses that rely upon its survival.