Although the government was justified in its initial decision to enforce closure on hospitality through lockdown, it must now take responsibility for the consequences of its actions, Revolution Bars CEO Rob Pitcher has said.

Having seen a significant boost in August trading facilitated by the Eat Out to Help Out scheme – sales Monday to Wednesday last month were 188.4% of last year – Pitcher told MCA that despite the “hugely positive” outcome of the chancellor’s scheme, the industry’s need for government support is far from over.

In preventing hospitality from trading, he said, there were three major cost areas that “needed addressing”: people, suppliers, and rent.

“The first was our people, which the government secure in the furlough scheme. The second was our supply base, and I’m delighted that our suppliers have behaved with complete integrity and backed our business by not invoicing us for the period that we’re unable to use their services.

“Unfortunately, the third group is the landlords, and for whatever reason 50% of them don’t feel able to support our business and share the pain that was created.”

But despite his frustration with certain landlords’ unwillingness to compromise on rent payments – landlords in just 26 sites have granted Revolution rent waivers - Pitcher added that a certain amount, if not most, of the responsibility for resolving the rent stalemate must fall on government.

“If landlords don’t feel able to share the pain, then the reality is that the government caused the problem and they need to take responsibility for those actions and agree to fund some of the £3bn of unpaid rent across retail and leisure,” he said.

And with the proposed end of the moratorium fast approaching on 30 September, Pitcher is of the opinion that an extension “is only delaying the inevitable.”

Instead, he hopes the government will look to a more proactive approach, specifically in the form of the Property Bounceback scheme proposed last month in a joint call from landlords and operators.

The proposal, put together by The British Property Federation (BPF), British Retail Consortium (BRC), Revo, Uk Active and UK Hospitality, would see Government issue grants of up to 50% of rent and service charges between March and September, conditional on an agreement by the landlord and tenant to account for the remaining 50%.

For Pitcher, it is through a fiscal and decisive measure of this kind that the government must take “responsibility for the fact that there are consequences to their actions.

“If the government sees fit to [extend the moratorium] because they need a bit more time then so be it, but we support the Property Bounceback Scheme” he said. “If the moratorium runs out on 30 September, businesses are going to fail, jobs are going to be lost.

“And currently the government isn’t giving us any indication as to whether they’ll support the scheme that was put in front of them four weeks ago.”

With 49 of its sites already reopen for trading, Revolution is set to open a further 13 on Monday 7 September, and is extending the Eat Out to Help Out scheme – without the £10 cap – at its own cost for the rest of the month.

As reported in its trading update yesterday (3 September), the group saw sales in the 8 weeks to 29 August at 72.5% of the same period last year, ahead of its initial expectations which predicted sales of 55% with marginal improvement in September and October.