A PUB chain with 10 branches around Northwich, Knutsford and Wilmslow has announced it is axing more than 2,000 jobs nationwide due to coronavirus restrictions.

Marston's says around 2,150 of its pub workers currently on furlough support will be impacted, while it will also launch a further cost-cutting plan by the end of the year, as curfews and new restrictions have hammered trade.

Marston's put the blame squarely on the recent nationwide measures to tackle the surge in coronavirus cases, which has seen curfews placed on hospitality venues as well as some closures.

Ralph Findlay, chief executive of 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."

Marstons runs 10 pubs around Northwich, Knutsford and Wilmslow:

  • Carriers Inn, Norley
  • Tigers Head Inn, Norley
  • Riverside Inn, Acton Bridge
  • Hartford Hall, Hartford
  • The Watermead, Lostock Gralam
  • Lost and Found, Knutsford
  • Builders Arms, Knutsford
  • Legh Arms, Knutsford
  • Crown Inn, Goostrey
  • Wilmslow Tavern, Summerfield Village

Cheshire and most of England currently has a 10pm curfew on bars and restaurants, while the Scottish Government has closed bars in some areas and imposed a 6pm curfew in others, and tier three areas of England such as Merseyside have seen bars close that do not serve food.

Marston's – which has 21 sites in Scotland and 18 in Merseyside and Halton, although most serve food – claims 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 per cent 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 per cent 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 per cent 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.