The Scottish Hospitality Group have today, 12th December, written to Cabinet Secretary Kate Forbes urging her to “to find support” for the hospitality industry. The letter is in full here:
12 December 2021
Dear Cab Sec,
I write to you today on behalf of the Scottish Hospitality Group
I am sure you will be aware of the statement put out by Public Health Scotland on the evening of Thursday 9th December 2021, and the subsequent media briefing from the First Minister the following day.
The hospitality sector in Scotland has been through a devastating 20 months since 20th March 2020.
From lockdowns, restrictions on service, curfews, music bans, short sharp shocks which was sold as a 3-week effort, but turned out to be over 200 days, and then further curfews and restrictions on the strategic business framework level system.
Christmas last year was a “Cinderella” Christmas for many, due to the need to be home by Christmas night, and for many others it was not a Christmas at all due to travel.
The hospitality sector in its already fragile state, were looking towards, and hoping for, a good Christmas this year, to help see us through the quieter months of January and February 2022. Indeed, it must be acknowledged that the public were looking forward to the same.
It has been a mammoth task for the hospitality sector to rebuild the confidence of its customers again since reopening at the various stages over the past 20 months, and that confidence was starting to stabilise, with the month of December set to resemble something close to previous years.
The statement which came out on Thursday evening publicly, started off what can only be described as a tsunami of cancellations even before the First Minister was able to give the Governments position the following day
The cost of this in turnover within SHG, is estimated to be in the region of £10 million if it continues at the cancellation levels currently being witnessed.
The fixed costs of labour, stock etc is irreversible, with this weekend fresh stock in many places having to now go in the bin, or to areas of homeless kitchens etc, which of course is a positive, and a clear demonstration of how hospitality is embedded within communities, and is a positive use of that stock, for those who are doing this, given the fact that binning food is something we are all trying to eliminate in society.
The sector is now in serious need of financial assistance to carry it through to at least April 2022
The sector as I have already said, has seen a tsunami of cancellations since the announcement, and when people cancel, that means exactly that, they have cancelled. The hope that we can fill that void of spaces from walk in customers is also exactly that……hope, and not definite.
As we came into what is usually a busy time for the sector, and a time where it needs to take 30 – 35% of their annual turnover to get them through January, February, and March, we will have taken on new staff, and now those jobs, and the jobs of those who are already employed within the sector have been placed at serious risk.
Hospitality have already invested thousands of pounds in making our venues a safe place to socialise, and we have done everything asked of us from Government in Scotland
SHG have since August 2021, called for Scottish Government to come up with a winter contingency plan for a “what if” scenario, and here we are, in exactly that situation. It is not in our view ok to simply say that the strategic framework has been updated. There has been no discussion on what help the sector would get in that “what if” situation. It is our view that should such a plan have been made; we would now not be facing the fear of financial ruin that many businesses within the sector are now seriously facing, and I can not stress that enough.
We seriously need to protect those businesses, and whilst we always seem to focus on the businesses, we very seldom talk about those within it, or around it, like our dedicated teams and supply chain.
I would plead and urge you as the Cab Sec for Finance, to find support to prop up our fragile sector, and in doing so protect those jobs for what will hopefully be a better future for 2022 and beyond.
I am more than happy, as always, to discuss this further with you, however I can not stress enough the urgency around this, and the need for Scottish Government and the sector to work harder than ever together to save it and the jobs within it
I look forward to hearing from you soon
Scottish Hospitality Group