The bars division of Brighton Pier Group has had to make staff lay-offs due to the continued uncertainty over the reopening of the late-night sector and the end of the furlough scheme.

The Luke Johnson-chaired group has only been able to reopen two out of its 12 bars, Lowlander in central London, and the outside terrace at Coalition, Brighton.

With a reopening date for late night venues not in sight, the group is trialling a new model in some of its larger venues, featuring repurposed dancefloors, in order to seat people in a socially distanced way, with no live music or dancing.

This model been trialled at Le Fez in Putney and Embargo in Chelsea, with more trials this month.

Group trading for the period from 4 July to the 6 September has been above expectations, with total revenue from all open operations at 77% of the same period last year.

On a divisional basis, during this same period, revenue for the Pier was 78% compared to last year, for the open Golf sites was 86% compared to last year, and for the open Bar sites was 59% compared to last year.

In a statement on its bars, previously known as Eclectic, the group said: “Re-opening of the late-night bars had been scheduled to commence in October, but as time has progressed the Government has continued to avoid making any commitment to an opening date.

“This lack of certainty coupled with the Government’s intention to end the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme by the end of October has resulted in the Bars division having to terminate the contracts for those members of staff for whom we cannot currently provide any prospect of work for the foreseeable future.”

The group is negotiating with landlords in its golf and late-night bars divisions to secure rent concessions and on-going turnover rent to mitigate the cost from the closed period and the sales impact of coronavirus restrictions during the re-opening phase.

Anne Ackord, CEO, said: “There remains however an urgent need for the Government to agree a plan for the re-opening of our late-night estate so that we can manage their return to business as quickly and effectively as possible.”

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