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Energy costs ‘wiping out profits’ for struggling pubs, brewery boss warns

·2-min read
The boss of St Austell Brewery has called for Government action to offset rocketing energy costs (Alamy/PA)
The boss of St Austell Brewery has called for Government action to offset rocketing energy costs (Alamy/PA)

A brewery boss has warned that sky-high energy bills could force some pubs to shut.

Small businesses are facing a crisis with soaring energy prices driving up operating costs and making it impossible for some owners to make a profit, Andrew Turner, chief operating officer of St Austell Brewery, told Sky News on Tuesday.

“Unlike consumers, there is no energy price cap for small businesses therefore we are seeing spiralling costs for our tenants, pubs, and breweries,” Mr Turner said.

“It is totally wiping out the profits they are making, which questions why on earth they would want to open their doors going forward.”

Mr Turner said that he had heard from one tenant who saw their energy bills increase by more than 400% last week.

Without any small business alternative to the consumer price cap, operators could face runaway energy costs as the price of gas continues to surge.

Mr Turner said that to avoid a potentially “catastrophic” situation, the Government needs to provide greater leadership and more support for the struggling sector.

“At the moment, it feels like we are sat in the ether, with no significant leader at the top to make decisions” he added.

“We need the Government to step forward to make decisions, to support our sector, and make sure such a cornerstone of UK business can get through this tough time.”

The boss added that the sector was able to rebuild after the damage caused by the pandemic, but that it was now facing another crisis that was completely out of its control.

The bosses of six of the UK’s biggest pub and brewing companies have signed an open letter to the Government urging it to act in order to avoid “real and serious irreversible” damage to the sector.

St Austell Brewery along with Greene King, JW Lees, Carlsberg Marston’s, Admiral Taverns and Drake & Morgan all sent the urgent warning.

A Government spokesperson said on Tuesday: “No government can control the global factors pushing up the price of energy and other business costs, but we will continue to support the hospitality sector in navigating the months ahead.”