Pub boss faces ‘up to 25%’ slump in trade due to rail strikes

·2-min read
Empty seating outside a pub near Charing Cross, London (Dominic Lipinski/PA) (PA Archive)
Empty seating outside a pub near Charing Cross, London (Dominic Lipinski/PA) (PA Archive)

A London pub boss has said he is facing as much as a 25% plunge in sales as rail strikes hammer hospitality firms.

Clive Watson, founder of City Pub Group, said it is “barely worth opening” some sites near train stations, due to the impact of industrial action on Tuesday, Thursday June 23 and Saturday June 25.

It comes as industry leaders warned that some hospitality venues could make as little as a tenth of usual trade on Tuesday due to a lack of commuter footfall.

Mr Watson, executive chairman of the 42-strong group, told the PA news agency that city centre locations have been hit hard by cancellations.

It’s early days but I think we are expecting trade to be 20% to 25% down this week

Clive Watson, founder of City Pub Group

“We have seen events cancelled in droves and really weak bookings in a lot of places,” he said.

“In London it is obviously bad but we’ve also seen it in Bristol, Norwich, Exeter, Reading. In general, a large proportion of bookings are being cancelled, without plans for them to be rearranged too.

“It’s early days but I think we are expecting trade to be 20% to 25% down this week.”

Only a fifth of trains are running on Tuesday and half of all lines are closed after about 40,000 members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union at Network Rail and 13 train operators walked out in a bitter dispute over pay, jobs and conditions.

The pub boss added that staffing many pubs on the strike days has also been “incredibly challenging” amid industry-wide pressures from worker shortages.

“Certainly, we have staffing problems with some London pubs where people are coming into the centre,” Mr Watson said.

Plans for Wednesday and Friday are being heavily affected by the disruption so it is a big hit for operators

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality

“It’s difficult to get people to these pubs and their trade is so far down you wonder if it is barely worth opening them up.

“We just want all the parties to sit around a table and find any resolution.”

Industry leaders said hospitality firms will still expect to face an impact on Wednesday as the effect of the strikes “bleeds” through week.

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, told PA: “A lot depends on location but the works affected have said today that trade is at 10% to 20% of what they would expect to see on an average Tuesday.

“Obviously there will be a heavy impact on the other strike days but one particular issue is that the impact will bleed throughout the week.

“Plans for Wednesday and Friday are being heavily affected by the disruption so it is a big hit for operators.”

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