Greene King CEO Nick Mackenzie has told MCA customers are “absolutely loving” being back in his pubs, despite the limitations of outside service.

He told Peter Martin, host of MCA’s The Conversation, that trading patterns had shifted, as temperatures dropped in the evening, while staff were walking up to 40,000 steps a day to serve customers.

Mackenzie said: “Certainly the day parts are different. For anyone who sat in a beer garden at nine o’clock at night over the last couple of weeks, it is cold.

“For the teams who’ve been serving, it’s physically quite challenging for them.

“I think the main thing we’ve learned is that people who are coming back to the pub, are absolutely loving it.

“They’re seeing how important the pub is to them and I think that can only be good for the future.”

Greene King reopened 452 of its managed estate on the 12th (around a third) with a further 108 due to open before the bank holiday weekend.

The company has around 1,000 tenanted pubs with about 60% of these open.

In Scotland, the company has 51 pubs opening up, as well as 12 in Wales.

Mackenzie added: “We took a fairly cautious approach first time around because I don’t think anyone really knew what the weather was going to be like. It’s fairly challenging to decide which ones to open.

“What we’ve learned from this is liquor has been better than food.

“Our city centre businesses we’ve opened far less of those, because of lack of outdoor space, and from a trading perspective, the lack of people going back to work and tourist in those locations. That’s been pretty challenging, so we probably won’t open that many more until May 17th.”