Stephen Montgomery of the Scottish Hospitality Group

A TRADING update from members of the Scottish Hospitality Group showed they took in only 20% of last year’s earnings during the vital Christmas trading period.

The figures mean that on average SHG members lost £12,000 of revenue per week, per premises – money that would normally keep businesses alive until the spring. 

The massive cut in revenue will impact on payments for property rent, utilities and equipment rent until at least the summer, affecting suppliers, investors such as pension funds, and others who depend on the industry.

It will also throw into doubt existing plans for £30m of investment in 27 premises which would create hundreds of new jobs as well as protecting existing ones. 

During the lockdown, businesses continue to spend on average nearly £6000 per week per premises on fixed costs and contributions to the furlough scheme.

Stephen Montgomery, spokesperson for SHG, said: “Without Christmas, when we earn around 30% of our entire annual income, most hospitality businesses just aren’t viable. We’ve had the worst December’s trading in living memory and we’re facing the worst start to a year ever.

“Instead of helping, our political leaders are squabbling with each other. It’s like arguing about who throws the lifebelt when someone’s already under water.  

As well as confusion about the support available to businesses, there are major delays between funding being announced and it being paid out.” 

Stephen added: “The continued furlough scheme is welcome but it’s there to protect jobs rather than businesses, and we still have to pay all sorts of fixed costs. Even those businesses that survive will seriously struggle to recover this year. Not only is the support completely inadequate, in many cases what little is available hasn’t appeared months after it was promised. 

“We will soon be proposing specific, realistic measures that both governments can introduce so we’ve got a fighting chance of getting back on our feet by next year. First of all though, we need them to grow up and start working together so that the hospitality sector still exists to drive our economic recovery once the virus is under better control.”