The owner of the highly-successful Brewdog pub chain has criticised the “rabbit in the headlights” UK government as he raises fears the energy crisis could cause half of the pubs and bars in the country to close.
James Watt says the lengthy saga over choosing the new leader of the Conservative Party has led to a “zombie government” which is not doing enough to help the hospitality industry.
His company has had to close six of its bars – three in London and three in Scotland.
But it has also opened its biggest ever bar – Brewdog Waterloo in London.
However, Watt fears for the future and took to Linkedin for a scathing post about the government.
He wrote: “The Waterloo bar in many epitomises where we want to evolve our bar estate.
“Of course not all our bars can have the scale of Waterloo, but we are looking to do something different with our bars – to provide incredible experiences for our wonderful, fun, loyal customers who want to drink a beautifully brewed beer, in a great environment, served by knowledgeable, passionate people with the option of the food we all love. And we have lots of new openings planned with over 20 locations in construction and planning.
“But it’s important the success of Waterloo doesn’t blind us all to the reality we as a sector are facing, nor to the sheer’ rabbit in the headlights’ paralysis of this zombie government, still intent on this bizarre leadership farce, instead of getting to grips with the kind of challenges that will result in more business causalities than the pandemic did.
“Industry experts estimate that up to a staggering 70 percent of the UK’s bars, pubs and restaurants could be forced to close due to soaring energy prices and huge cost price increases and unfortunately, we are not exempt from these headwinds.”
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He said it was “heart-breaking” to have to close the bars and called the government “clueless.”
He said: “Last night we confirmed we were to close 6 bars around the UK and it is heart-breaking to lose these locations.
“I warned a few weeks ago, costs are rising to such a degree, with no prospect of any help from a clueless government, that these very difficult decisions have to be made.
“It was going to be simply impossible to get these bars even close to financial viability in the foreseeable future. We had no choice but to close them.
“I am so, so happy that due to the strength in other parts of our bar estate, every single person has been offered a role in a separate bar nearby, so there will be no job losses. But I pray this is not a sign of things to come.
“Reality in the hospitality space is starting to bite and bite hard. And the government needs to get a grip, now.
“If nothing happens the UK looks set to lose half of its pubs and bars and all the millions of jobs these locations provide, as well as the vital role they play in local communities.”