Pub chain Marstons is set to cut more than 2,000 as coronavirus restrictions bite while furlough support comes to an end.
The impact will be on 2,150 workers currently on furlough support and the firm said it will also launch a further cost-cutting plan by the end of the year.
Ralph Findlay, chief executive of Wolverhampton-based Marston’s, said: “The additional restrictions which have been applied across the UK most recently present significant challenges to us and will make business more difficult for a period of time.
“I very much regret that the consequence of this is that the jobs of around 2,150 of our colleagues will be impacted, but it is an inevitable consequence of the limitations placed upon our business.
“We will be looking at our cost base further in the coming weeks.”
Marston’s blames recent nationwide measures to tackle the surge in coronavirus cases, which has seen curfews placed on hospitality venues and the closures of sites not serving food in high-risk areas such as Liverpool.
The new three-tier lockdown system, announced on Monday, has seen Liverpool subject to measures including the closure of bars, pubs which do not serve meals, gyms, betting shops and casinos.
Marston’s has 18 pubs in the Tier 3 Liverpool region, although the majority of these serve food and are allowed to remain open.
The UK Government imposed a 10pm curfew on pubs and hospitality venues across England from September 24, but since then Scotland has imposed a raft of further restrictions including closures in some areas and a 6pm curfew elsewhere.
Marston’s said it has 21 sites in Scotland, of which eight are currently closed.
Marston’s claimed the new rules “undermine consumer confidence and create uncertainty”.
It said: “The introduction of these further restrictions and guidance affecting pubs is hugely disappointing in view of a lack of clear evidence tying pubs to the recent increase in infection levels, and our own data which suggests that pubs are effective in minimising risks.”
Details of the job cuts at Marston’s comes as its annual results showed pub sales tumbled 34% to £515 million in the year to October 3, impacted heavily by the lockdown earlier this year.
Since pubs reopened in July, like-for-like pub sales were 10% lower over the 13-week period, helped by the Government’s Eat Out to Help Out meal discount scheme in August.
Brewery sales were 22% lower over the year at £306 million, though sales in retailers and off-licences lifted 23% as pubs were forced to close.
Marston’s announced a deal in May to merge with Carlsberg’s UK arm to form a joint venture worth around £780 million.
The tie-up will create the Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company and is set to complete at the end of this month.
Rick Coyle regional officer with trade union Unite, said: “This grim news from Marston’s is another nail in the coffin of the struggling hospitality industry and today Unite renews its call for the government to produce a concrete and coherent package of measures to support the sector which is now on life support.
“Thousands of jobs across the UK are depending on such a package being delivered urgently by chancellor Rishi Sunak, otherwise the UK’s hospitality sector will become a waste land.
“Unite’s members at Marston’s are mainly based at the breweries in Wolverhampton and Burton upon Trent and we are seeking urgent clarification from management on what the announcement means for our members producing such iconic brands as Pedigree.
“Unite will be giving maximum support to our members at Marston’s at what is a desperately worrying time for them and their families with Christmas on the horizon.”