Dear Friends of Shepherd Neame,
Firstly, I would like to thank you for your incredible support since we reopened our pubs in July. This has been the most challenging period any of us in the hospitality industry can remember, and we have been overwhelmed by your willingness to stay safe and follow the new rules. We have also been incredibly uplifted by the huge amount of positive feedback you have shared with us during this time.
The ingenuity and team spirit shown by our licensees and team members since this crisis began in March has been truly inspiring. Everyone has worked tirelessly to introduce extensive protective measures and to develop new ways of working to comply with Government regulations and make our pubs safe.
However, as you will be aware, the Government is introducing a second national lockdown from Thursday, November 5 in response to the rising number of COVID-19 case numbers across the whole of the UK.
Therefore, we have no option but to temporarily close the doors of all our 319 pubs and hotels across Kent, London and the South East from 10pm on Wednesday (November 4).
We want to offer every support possible to help our licensees preserve the future of their businesses, so we will once again be waiving commercial rent at this time. Our head office team will also offer support for licensees in accessing the grants and financial support available from Government.
To ensure that food is not wasted, our teams will be sending it to local food banks and to support the homeless.
During the last lockdown we were able to sell takeaway beer alongside takeaway meals, but the Government has now banned takeaway alcohol sales. We think that this is a ludicrous rule that will contribute nothing to tackling the Covid crisis and are among those in the industry calling for an urgent change of policy.
We will also be making some temporary change to our staffing structure and salary levels, as follows:
- We are requesting more than 90% of our people step aside from their current roles on a temporary basis.
- We will be accessing the latest Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (‘furlough’ measures), whereby the Government will pay 80% of the wages of those affected up to £30k per annum. On top of this, we will fund the wages of all those affected earning above £30k per annum so that they continue to receive 80% of their normal pay.
- Our Company’s Directors have again volunteered to take a temporary 20% reduction in salary.
- Our great brewery team will continue working to produce beer in a Covid-secure environment.
The measures will be in place until December 2, and will remain under review as the situation evolves.
Our priority throughout this crisis has been our team members. The ongoing restrictions due to COVID continue to impact the business, however, making it difficult, or in some cases impossible, to perform certain functions. The restrictions have also had a significant impact on the operation of our pubs and hotels, resulting in reduced trading levels. It is with great regret, therefore, that I can confirm that we have had to let around 10% of our workforce go. We did everything possible to keep this number to a minimum and will continue to look after our teams to the best of our ability.
It is extremely disheartening to go into lockdown again after the immense efforts of the past few months. But, as evidenced by the overwhelming wave of support given to our pubs when we reopened in July, our communities need, want and love their local. We look forward to welcoming you back as soon as the situation allows.
Shepherd Neame has weathered many crises in its long history and remains as well placed as any to emerge from this crisis, but there is a long winter ahead with many challenges for us all.
Stay safe; Stay connected; Stay positive.
With my thanks and very best wishes,
Shepherd Neame Chief Executive