“Food and drink prices will rise due to soaring costs,” pub boss warns

A top UK pub boss has warned that food and drink prices are on the rise after site management costs rise.

Clive Watson, founder and executive chairman of City Pub Group, told the PA news agency that regulars in pubs will have to be prepared to pay more.

He said the group was well protected from the cost of recent supply disruptions, driven by shortages of truck drivers, food manufacturing staff and CO2, due to fixed-price contracts with suppliers. .

However, Mr Watson said broader inflationary pressures, such as rising wages to attract new employees and soaring construction costs, mean pub trips will become more expensive for customers.

“We’re seeing cost inflation everywhere and it’s not stopping,” he told PA.

“It’s going to reverberate through everyone in the whole industry, although obviously not just in pubs – it’s a huge problem right now for the industry as a whole.

“We’re seeing inflation of 4% and above for most things, so we’ll have to raise prices in our pubs like everyone else will.”

Clive Watson, Executive Chairman of City Pub Group
Clive Watson, Executive Chairman of City Pub Group (City Pub Group / PA)

City Pub Group said its suppliers told them at the end of last week that they have a significant supply of CO2 and that the restart of CO2 supplies from fertilizer factories in the north of England should alleviate short-term concerns.

Watson also pointed out that the company has seen staffing problems ease since July, when the “pingdemic” severely affected employee numbers, but the group still has significant vacancies.

“We currently have around 10% vacancy rate at the moment, so although the staff issue is better, it is still there,” he said.

“The UK has an aging population and we don’t have everyone to do these types of jobs, so we need international workers to come back to the fore.

“Personally, I think we should have a European visa system to encourage workers here for two to three years to solve this problem. I think it’s really obvious.

His comments came as the company, which operates 50 pubs and hotels across the UK, revealed its latest sales were at 90% of pre-pandemic levels.

City Pub Group added that its downtown locations have seen a positive recovery as office workers and students return.

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