The West Midlands hospitality sector has been particularly impacted by the pandemic.
With extended periods of closure - then just as things were improving the omicron variant stuck, which has once again driven customers away. For many it’s been a battle for survival with concerns regarding the levels of government support.
The government say that they have supported the hospitality sector with measures including £1 billion of support - including a new grant scheme, the reintroduction of the Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme - and further funding released through the Culture Recovery Fund. This in addition to existing measures including business rates support and reduced rates of VAT.
But with 19198 new Covid cases recorded in Birmingham for the week ending January, compared with 15,576 in the week ending December 30 - an increase of 23.3% the situation remains serious. A total of 95% of these cases are Omicron, according to latest NHS data.
Sam Morgan, from About Dining which owns Craft and other businesses in the Westside district of Birmingham city centre, including Craft Restaurant and About Dining, says all sections of the local hospitality sector are struggling.
He told BirminghamWorld: “The Christmas period is definitely the vast majority of what the revenue is made up of. And for most hospitality businesses, it constitutes in the region of around 40% of our annual turnover.
“Unfortunately, due to the Omicron virus and spread - and the messaging that was placed out by the government and health officials - it saw that 40% dive by approximately 60%. So unfortunately, the Christmas period wasn’t quite what we’d hoped for.
“Craft can survive, but it will require a lot of good communication between ourselves, you know, and ongoing, sort of, creditors because, you know, ultimately, the revenue that you make from the last quarter is typically used to support yourselves over the first quarter.”
Mike Olley, General Manager of the Westside Bid, the busiest entertainment sector in the West Midlands added: “No the government’s not supporting the hospitality sector - they say they are but what’s on offer is pathetic at best.
“Well, I’ve got my fingers crossed that we are moving out of the pandemic, I’ve got my fingers crossed that it’s all over and there’s gonna be a new norm established and I think as a result of that, then we can just get on with doing what we do best and that’s entertaining people. Westside is the major hospitality centre for the English Midlands and certainly in Birmingham, it’s the place to go to.”
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