London pubs struggle as staff continue to work from home

Mr Martin also said pubs were seeing the fall-out from a rise in lockdown-induced fear over leaving homes, and took aim at tax policies for driving more customers to supermarkets for their beer over pubs.

He said: “The main long-term challenge to the pub industry is the tax disparity with supermarkets, which pay zero VAT in respect of food sales, whereas pubs pay 20pc. This disparity enables supermarkets to subside the selling price of beer, wine and spirits, to the detriment of pubs.”

He said in recent decades, pubs’ share of beer sales had dropped from 90pc to less than 50pc, with the disparity in VAT meaning pubs are “fighting with one hand tied behind their back”.

“Supermarkets are far more profitable than pubs – Tesco is probably more profitable than the entire pub industry.”

All across the UK, companies have been wrangling with soaring costs – something Mr Martin also said had “proved to be far higher and more intractable than anyone anticipated”.

Wetherspoons said it had, however, been largely able to moderate cost increases on food and drink, with long-term contracts in place.

It expects its overall costs will increase by less than the current rate of inflation in the current financial year.

Others have not taken such a hit from rising salaries, and recruiter Page Group said it was receiving a boost from wage inflation. The company takes a fee based on the salary of the person they find for a post.

Chief executive Steve Ingham said: “We delivered increased levels of productivity, with the group continuing to benefit from favorable trading conditions, including inflation and increased fee rates resulting from the high demand and short supply of candidates.”

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