City Pub Group boss appeals for Government business rates and visa action

·2-min read

The boss of City Pub Group has called on the Government to address business rates and provide longer work visas to aid industry labour shortages.

It came as the London-based pub operator saw shares jump on the back of a surge in sales over the first half of the year after the easing of pandemic curbs.

City Pub Group, which runs 40 pubs, revealed that revenues swelled to £26.1 million for the six months to June 26, compared with £8.9 million over the same period last year after being hampered by the pandemic.

The company swung to an adjusted pre-tax profit of £1.3 million, compared with a £2 million pre-tax loss a year earlier.

City Pub Group's Nell Gwynne Tavern in London's Covent Garden
City Pub Group saw sales rocket after the relaxation of pandemic restrictions (City Pub Group/PA)

The company added that trading since the end of June has “remained positive”.

The firm expected trading to “remain resilient” for the rest of the year after the Government announced it will freeze the energy price cap for householders.

City Pub Group’s update came as the Government announced that it will also pick up nearly half of firms’ soaring energy bills for at least six months from October.

Clive Watson, chairman of City Pub Group, said the company has bolstered its finances over the past year but is keen for further support from the Government when it announces a new package on Friday.

He said: “The disposal of six pubs in April for £17 million has put the company in an even stronger position with very low net debt and what we believe is amongst the lowest gearing in the sector. However we continue to urge the Government to do more for hospitality, particularly on business rates and providing two to three-year visas to alleviate the labour shortages.

“City Pub Group is a dynamic business which benefits from having a wonderful estate of high-quality freehold pubs.

“From our position of strength, we will adopt an entrepreneurial approach to retailing and embrace technology.

“We will continue to run our existing business ever more efficiently, our current focus, before turning our attention to building the company by acquisition when the time is right.”

Shares rose by 5.6% to 56.5p in early trading.