Understanding that the impact of the coronavirus on our industry is real and wide-ranging, we have put together a few suggestions of steps that you can take to help protect your business in these tough times. A lot of these will be obvious, but hopefully there are one or two points here that you will find helpful.

Ensuring that your business is sustainable is key to weathering this storm.

We have broken this out into five sections:

  • people (ensuring safety, looking after your team and giving your employees a paintbrush);
  • cost control (including suppliers and stock);
  • revenue generation (including takeaway and delivery services);
  • financials (including insurance and loan repayments); and
  • future revenue and profit (using this time as an opportunity).

British pubs and inns are at the heart of the local community and our national culture. We have seen innumerable examples over the years of our pubs and inns supporting, and being supported by, the local communities. We believe this is no exception and have heard some fantastic stories from our Collection of communities rallying around their local inns over the weekend.

As ever, we believe in the power of our community, so if you have any suggestions then please share them with us and we will pass them on to our Collection.

And if you would like to discuss any of the below, please get in contact with us and we can try and help.

The below was updated on 16 March following the government's announcement of 17:00 hours on 16 March 2020 whereby the government has asked the nation to "avoid unnecessary social contact" and to "avoid confined spaces" including pubs and restaurants.

Updated financial section on 17 March with details of HMRC's coronavirus helpline and with outline information from the government's announcement of 17:00 hours on 17 March 2020.

Updated financial section on 20 March with details of government's announcement on 20 March 2020, including the Coronavirus Job Retention Schee and immediate loan availability.

We have set up a Facebook group for our Collection which you should all have been invited to. If not, please let us know.

If you missed it, click the link below for an overview of ways in which we can help.


Our employees are our family, and we know yours are no exception. Keeping them safe, and financially secure, is important; and balancing their financial security with your business needs is tough.

The government's financial support package of contributing 80% of employees' wages who are not working and retained, up to £2,500, will come as a huge relief to maintain the livelihood of teams and ensure that you are able to re-open with immediate effect when safe to do so.

  • Health and safety: continue to follow government advice, look after your team and your guests.
  • Financial: ensure your business is on a strong financial footing to employ, and continue to employ, individuals for the long term.
  • Community: we all have a social duty, and now even more so. Consider if any of your team, or your regulars, may be vulnerable in the coming weeks and months and what you can do to help - maybe an occasional quick phone call or note through the door if you know they are on their own.

We are looking at ways to help place volunteers/employees who need to earn more with organisations in need - find out more here.

Reducing your employment costs

Reduced footfall and revenue could see you having too many employees for your business need, or too high costs for your turnover. Given the financial support being offered from the government, we hope that any lay-offs, redundancies or teminations will not be required to the extent they may have been before this announcement.

  • Rotas: now, more than ever, is the time to ensure your rotas are tightly managed. Look at using salaried employees rather than variable hours workers as the costs of your salaried employees are fixed (subject to the below).
  • Reduced hours / lay-off: if you have "lay-off" or "reduced hours" (sometimes called "short time working") clauses in your employment contracts, you could temporarily suspend employment, or reduce the hours that your employees work according to the business need, and reduce pay proportionately. This would give you the flexibility to impose, for example, a 4-day working week for all employees, or suspend employement for some employees in totality. Getting your employees' buy-in to this will be critical for long-term team morale, and don't forget the statutory guarantee payment of £29 for 5 days in a 3 month period.
  • Sabbaticals: consider offering employees paid sabbaticals (for less than they would receive in a salary). This could present less financial hardship than a lay-off and give your employees more trust in you as a caring employer. They would come at a cost to you, and you should consider ensuring that any employees forfeit any sabbatical payment should they not return to work for you for a minimum period.
  • Temporary employees and consultants, including agency workers: these are likely to be the most expensive on an hourly basis, but also the easiest to reduce down or suspend with short notice periods.
  • Pay cuts: open and honest discussions with your team about the financial position of your business may mean your employees not only are willing to accept pay cuts, but may even volunteer them.
  • Redundancies: whilst we do not like the idea of redundancies, we understand the reality that we may all be faced with. This is a statutory process and you will need to follow the correct procedure.

Give your employees a paintbrush...

... or a spade.

Use this time to invest in your site so that you are well poised for any upside:

  • redecorate your sites - a coat of paint inside and out;
  • get your gardens looking glorious and set up for the spring and summer months;
  • attend to those odd jobs that you haven't gotten around to yet; or
  • give your site a deep clean.

Learn to make the best coffees around...

Use the time to up-skill your employees, improve knowledge of your wine list or get some more qualifications.

A quiet site means time to train your team, learn some new skills and get ready to maximise future revenue, or complete any outstanding training.

Redeployment of employees to support national effort

Whilst we are seeing a tough time, other industries are looking for more resource. For example supermarkets cannot stock shelves fast enough, delivery companies are seeing an increase in demand.

If there are local businesses who are in need of support, opening up a conversation on behalf of your employees may solve a lot of problems.

We have commenced discussions on how we can use the surplus of labout in our industry to off-set the huge shortage of labour in a number of sectors - food producers, logistics firms, healthcare and supermarkets initially spring to mind. We are working on how to match surplus labour to the shortage and will update you accordingly.

This clearly has a financial benefit as well as the much-needed one of national support.

Ask your employees, or anyone who needs help, to register here.

Review your costs

Work through your P&L on a line-by-line basis to understand what your costs are, and how these could be reduced, as footfall drops, or should it stop altogether and you look to close your site.


Look at which suppliers are absolutely necessary, and consider which suppliers you may need to switch off if you have to temporarily close.

We are sure that you have been, but work through your stock and ensure that you only have the amount that you need.

​Consider the following, and remember everyone will be open to a conversation:

  • Utilities, telephone, broadband: discuss alternative tariffs with your utilities suppliers; consider switching providers. If you need to close the doors temporarily, ensure you take meter readings and communicate these to your providers. Ensure lights are turned off when not in use, heating is turned down.
  • Linen: if you are temporarily closing and wish to pause your linen contracts, you may need to arrange for all linen to be returned. Even if your contracts do not allow for suspension or early termination, your linen supplier may be amenable to a discussion - from conversations that we have had with linen suppliers, a lot of them have contracts with the NHS and other health providers so are anticipating being busy - so for them to be able to re-allocate may be a benefit to them.
  • Sanitary bins, waste: reduce collections as appropriate.
  • Contractors: consider which contractors you may wish to keep engaged and which ones you should pause relationships with (e.g. recruitment consultants, marketing and PR agencies).
  • Booking platforms: consider which booking platforms you should continue to use.
  • Newspapers, magazines, flowers, subscriptions: reduce your order or cancel subscriptions.
  • Septic tanks: these are likely to still require emptying/flushing, albeit not as frequently.
  • Equipment rental: consider what other equipment you could return or reduce rental of.


  • Undertake a full stock-check.
  • Look at any repeat orders and ensure automatic re-orders are monitored and controlled.
  • Beverage suppliers: speak to your drinks reps to discuss their delivery plans. Large suppliers may automatically pause deliveries, so ensure you have enough supply, not just ensuring your don't have too much.
  • Perishables: understand what you have and how to sell this - for example takeaway and delivery services (see below), sale into the community for their use at home; consider community give-aways where others can make use of your stock.
  • Wet goods: speak to your suppliers and discuss returns of those with short use-by dates - kegs or unbroken stock could be returned. Look at maintaining some stock of products with longer use-by dates to remain stocked when open again.
  • Cleaning supplies: understand your stock, what you require for the short term and when open. Consider what you could sell to your local community (in smaller quantities).


  • Discuss with your landlord any rent concessions.
  • If you have a rent deposit, this may exceed the rent deposit required for your site, or your landlord may no longer require this. You could have the deposit released back to you in full, or you may be able to ask your landlord to start off-setting your rent against your deposit (potentially subject to topping this up at a later date).

Marketing and PR

Consider reducing marketing and PR spend, whether consultancies, paid social or adwords, or any other fixed costs. Instead, look at free to use alternatives, and consider investing time in some marketing training.

Revenue generation

The government's announced shutdown of all pubs and inns, and the enhanced lock-down means that anything that you do as a business requires full compliance with the government's guidelines and looking after everyone's health and safety and done in an appropriate way to minimise face-to-face interactions and ensure appropriate social distancing.

Takeaway and delivery

People will get bored of cooking at home. Turning your food into great takeaway dishes could be a saviour to your local community!

You don't need a pizza oven. Classics from your menu, or some newly designed favourites, to serve as takeaway dishes could even be a long-term venture.

If you have the staff, why not also offer a delivery service?

In terms of regulations, you will need to ensure that your HACCP procedures are updated, your licences allow for off-sales (particularly alcohol) and you take the necessary precautions on health and safety, particularly for deliveries. You should also ensure that your insurance provider is notified of any change and that you are covered. It would be good practice to update your licensing details.

If your site is shut as a public house and this is more than a short-term measure, technically you may need to apply for a (temporary) change of use from your local authority - although one to discuss with them and, we would suggest, ask them to take a pragmatic view.

Cook-at-home dishes

Design a menu, providing a set of ingredients and some cooking instructions and let your locals cook some dishes off your menu at home.

Consider also doing a virtual cook-along or demonstration to promote interaction and socialising.

Again, this would require an update to your HACCP and you should notify your insurance provider.

Become a retailer

If you have a strong supply chain (including local suppliers), help you local community by on-selling your produce into the community - what can you get that nobody else can? How can you work with local farmers and producers?

Financial support

We have to believe that the government will not let our industry collapse, as to do so does not make social or economic sense, and that it will provide financial support .

Government support

Full detail of the government's support packages for businesses can be found here.

The clear message is that the government wants to support businesses, jobs and individuals. The support package announced to-date (20 March) is as follows:

  • cash grants of up to £25k relative to the rateable value of the business (where rateable value is up to £51k);
  • statutory sick pay (to be covered from day-1, not day-4) to be reimbursed by the government for up to two weeks' sick leave occasioned by coronavirus;
  • measures to preserve jobs (subject to the mechanism to be agreed, and timings to be announced);
  • business interruption loans of up to £5m with no interest for first 12 months, with availability commencing Monday 23 March;
  • business rates holidays of up to 12 months for all businesses;
  • up to 80% of salary of those employees that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis, up to £2,500 per month for at least 3 months, backdated to 1 March 2020 through an application to HMRC; and
  • all VAT payments deferred until 30 June 2020.

Loan repayments

Speak to your bank as soon as possible to discuss repayment holidays, covenant concessions or additional support they may be able to give you.


On 17 March, the government announced that insurance policies with pandemic coverage would apply to the measures taken by the government (and that the measures taken amount to "enforced closures"). You should therefore speak to your insurance broker or insurance company (and double check your policy yourself!).

The applicability of business interruption insurance for our industry for this situation is not positive on the face of it. We have been speaking to insurance brokers, insurance companies and lawyers to navigate a path to getting our insurance companies to pay.

The consensus is that industry pressure is likely to be the key to unlocking this - and with most insurance policies in our industry being standard, something that will have a huge benefit for all of us.

If you have had not luck with your insurance company, please complete this form and we will add you to our list and see what can be done to help. We are not promising anything, but hopefully we will have more power as a collective.

Bank loans

The government has already asked banks to provide loans on standard commercial rates. This is far from ideal, but would provide some form of financial support should it be needed.

Alternative loan option

As we await the delivery of the government's financial support, a number of private operators are stepping in to help, we have been looking into immediate options for you.

We have been negotiating with a merchant services provider as part of our upcoming Inn Club to provide lower card processing costs. To support your businesses in the short term, they have set up a loan facility that gets repaid out as a fixed percentage of your credit and debit card takings, meaning you only repay when you take payments.

They have agreed to open this up to our Collection and not require you transfer to them as a payment provider.

This does not look to be the cheapest loan, but could be a valuable source of immediate cash that only requires payment when you become revenue generating.

For more information, please contact Tim Martin on 07926 804 020 or tim.martin@paymentsense.com, quoting "Epicurean Collection".

Business rates relief

Business rates reliefs now extend to all businesses for up to 12 months.

Manage cash flow

Proactively manage your cash flow by working through payment terms and discuss at an early stage any potential issues you may have with meeting payment deadlines to seek to extend these.


HMRC has set up a dedicated COVID-19 helpline to help businesses and self-employed individuals in financial distress and with outstanding tax liabilities receive support with their tax affairs.

Through this, businesses may be able to agree a bespoke 'Time to Pay' arrangement.

HMRC Coronavirus Helpline

Telephone: 0800 015 9559

Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm

Saturday, 8am to 4pm

Publican Support Helpline

Grant Thornton and Diageo and offering a free support helpline for pub owners and operators.

The Publican Support Helpline provides information to licensed business owners looking to access the commercial measures announced by the government. The phone line, 0207 728 2556, is free to call, or alternatively you can enquire via email at Publican.Support@uk.gt.com.

Investment for the future

Use this time as an opportunity.

We have already outlined ways to invest in your site (a lick of paint, improve your garden, a deep clean, those odd jobs...) and your team (training, up-skilling, the best coffee around...), but here are a few other ways.

Reinvigorate your menu or drinks offering

Get ahead of food and drinks trends.

If you are running down your stock, why not look to reinvigorate your offering. Take some of the trends out of London and grow your offering of small plates, vegetarian and vegan dishes; bring in a wider range of soft drinks or low- or no-alcohol alternatives.

Take a marketing course

Take a marketing course, take some photos and get creative to begin marketing your site to get it ahead of the competition.

Develop your materials

HACCP plans, policies, contracts... these are all things that we don't have time for on a day-to-day basis.

Work on your Experiences

Use the time and develop some ideas for Experiences around your site and send them on to us so that we can make them a reality.

Review your suppliers

Review all of your suppliers, from food and beverage to lines through to utilities. There may well be able to renegotiate on a lot of your contracts - businesses across our industry will be incentivised to help, not wanting to lose it on custom in too great a volume. Consider putting in place a property management system if you don't have one so that you can have live bookings on your rooms to maximise future sales, or bring in new drinks suppliers offering a wide range of support packages.