Kevin Georgel

St Austell Brewery has pledged to support the self-employed publicans who are tenants or lessees of 147 of its south west pubs, throughout the duration of the coronavirus pandemic.

National pub closures on Friday March 20, including all 182 of its tenancies and directly managed pubs, resulted in the company losing 90% of its income overnight.

The family-owned brewery – established in 1851 – has since furloughed around 90% of its employees, who have been put on temporary leave but will continue to receive 80% of their income. To help reduce overheads, the company’s board and senior team have also voluntarily committed to salary reductions of up to 20%, until normal trading resumes.

In recent weeks, the company has played a lead role in lobbying the Government for urgent and meaningful financial support for all 147 of its tenants.

Kevin Georgel, St Austell Brewery’s chief executive, said: “Our tenants continue to be our absolute focus and priority at this time. We have been building on these trusted and supportive relationships for over 169 years and have no intention of stepping away now, no matter how difficult the circumstances get. We initially deferred all tenant rent payments due in April and have subsequently cancelled rent from 21st March until the end of April. We’re continuing to keep the situation under regular review and provide as much clarity as we can, on what is a rapidly changing situation.

“We’re responding to each tenant’s individual circumstances and looking into the levels of Government support available for them on a case-by-case basis. Our experienced business development managers (BDMs) across the south west are fully available for our tenants throughout the crisis. They’re in regular communication and providing ongoing guidance on the schemes and grants that are accessible.

“We applaud the Government’s Job Retention Scheme – which allowed our tenants to furlough their staff – as well as the £25k grants that have been made available for pubs with a rateable value under £51k. Where we, and the wider industry, desperately need further Government support is for those businesses above that £51k rateable value. We believe they’ve been unfairly excluded from the grant scheme and, as a business, we’re continuing to lobby hard to change this. We’re committed to doing all we can to help our tenants navigate the challenges that lie ahead.”

Georgel added: “I’ve been inspired to see how our tenants have adapted to the crisis, many of whom are running innovative and successful takeaway services for their locals. Several have also signed up to, of which we’re a proud supporter. It’s a click and collect platform that enables pubs to sell essential items, such as eggs, bread and milk, to their local communities.”

With increased precautionary measures in place, St Austell Brewery is continuing to brew Tribute, Proper Job and Korev for supermarkets nationwide, throughout the pandemic. The company is also delivering beers to customer’s homes across the UK, via its online shop service. The brewery has seen a high increase in the demand for its packaged beers, since pubs closed across the UK. In the past fortnight alone, more than half a million bottles of its celebrated IPA, Proper Job, have been brewed and bottled.

Last week, the Brewery launched an order and collect service in five of its depots across the south west. The sites in St Columb, Heathfield, Ilfracombe, Avonmouth and Wimborne are now being used as collection points, enabling people who live locally to enjoy their favourite St Austell beers and wines at home.