Businesses moving to level four: devastated and disappointed

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By Mary-Ann Russon
Business reporter, BBC News

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Thousands of businesses across the UK will now have to close or extend the closures as several regions join the tightest level of Covid restrictions from Thursday.
Under the level four rules, non-essential stores, beauty salons, and hairdressers must close and people are restricted to meeting in an outdoor public place with their household or another person.
We are talking to four companies involved.

“It will be devastating for many businesses”

image copyrightJW Lees

legendPub chain manager William Lees-Jones says businesses dare not take risks or prepare to reopen

William Lees-Jones, managing director of JW Lees, a 192-year-old North West pub chain, says the change will be “devastating” for many businesses.
Already at level three it was forced to close on Christmas and said it ‘cost each of our pubs £ 4,000 in food waste’.
“Before Christmas, we restocked all our sites. It cost us dearly, so we will not take up this bet again.
“Our concern, as you go in January and February, is to be able to plan any sort of reopening is the challenge.”
“The pubs are closed on level three and they are closed on level four,” he told the BBC. “All of our pubs remain closed with very limited compensation from the government. ”

‘I’m disappointed, but not surprised’

Rosemary Smith, fondatrice de All Fired Upimage copyrightAll lit up
legendRosemary Smith, founder of All Fired Up, says repeated lockdowns make it very difficult to continue operations
Rosemary Smith runs All Fired Up, a pottery cafe in Bournemouth, which will be forced to close again from Thursday as the area enters level four.
“I am disappointed but not surprised after seeing the numbers on the new cases,” says Smith.
“The November lockdown was a big blow because of all the work we had done to rebuild the customer base.
“I felt a lot more confident in October, but in December the number of customers was still quite low. We are now entering 2021 without really knowing how things are going to turn out. ”
Ms Smith says the closures have forced food to be thrown out, not being able to swap, and patrons don’t feel safe returning to the cafe after lockouts are over.
She’s made kits that people can take home and paint pottery, then bring back pieces to cook, but says it’s not the same.
“For the hospitality as a whole, we have been hit so hard, please give us more financial support,” she said.
“If business rates return in March, trade will not be restored enough by then for me to pay them.” ”

“Our revenues have almost halved”

Derek Jones, codirecteur de Heritage Kitchenimage copyrightCuisine Heritage
legendHeritage Kitchen Co-Director Derek Jones says catering to pubs and restaurants is a big part of his business
The Derek Jones Company, Co-Director of Heritage Kitchen, produces jam, chutneys and relish which are sold in independent food markets and artisan food stores, as well as in pubs and restaurants across the country.
With all restaurants and pubs closed during lockdowns in 2020, the business suffered a 30-50% impact in revenue.
After a website launched in November, sales have been going really well over Christmas time, but he says people usually buy chutneys on Christmas as gifts. In January and February, commerce becomes calm again, until shops and restaurants ask for more stock.
“I’m disturbed, as it will have a ripple effect on my business,” he told the BBC.
« [Pubs and restaurants] tend to restock from January to February so if they are not open orders will not be placed. If we get from March to April and we’re still at level three or four, then that will be a serious concern. ”

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Businesses ask for more support

Analysis by Sarah Corker, Consumer Correspondent
The stop-and-start nature of restrictions and lockdowns throughout 2020 has already proven to be fatal for many businesses.
January is generally a slow month for sales, but the level four restrictions mean things have gotten much, much more difficult for businesses in large parts of the north of England and the Midlands.
Since the pandemic hit in March, the hospitality, retail and travel sectors have been the hardest hit sectors of the economy.
After disappointing Boxing Day sales and a 60% drop in traffic, retailers are already struggling to move a mountain of excess inventory.
Pubs and restaurants have missed the lucrative Christmas season, the so-called Golden Quarter.
The escalation to level four restrictions is their worst start to the year; another forced hibernation, no customers or money coming in, but the bills still need to be paid.
There are government grants for businesses forced to close up to £ 3,000 per month and the leave program has been extended until the end of April, but most of England now being at levels three and four, companies are asking for more financial support to help. they survive the winter.
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“We have put our business online”

The founders of Dukki Gifts, Ian Jones and Heidi Hargreavesimage copyrightDukki Gifts
legendDukki Gifts founders Ian Jones and Heidi Hargreaves have adapted their entire business to ‘take back control’
During the first lockdown from March to May, Heidi Hargreaves found herself in an awkward position.
She had closed her High Street Dukki Gifts gift shop in Nottingham city center due to the foreclosure, and now her owner had decided he wanted to sell the building entirely.
Rather than finding new premises, Ms Hargreaves and her business partner Ian Jones instead decided to run the business from their living room and built a workshop deep in their garden.
Unlike many other retailers, Dukki Gifts has done well over Christmas, helped by the fact that it manufactures 90% of its products in-house and sources other products and services from local businesses.
“We have totally changed and adapted our business, but in the long run it will be better because we have more control of things, so if we go into another lockdown, like today, we can still trade,” she said. . .
“We were initially worried about enough traffic to the website, but we’re number one when looking for ‘Nottingham freebies’ on the internet, and we have a click and collect service. ”

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