William Hill closes 100 branches located in Tier Three regions

William Hill temporarily closes 100 branches located in Tier Three regions – adding yet MORE boarded-up shops to Britain’s Covid-battered High Street

  • Around 10% of the betting firm’s high street stores are in Tier Three regions
  • PM’s decision to close betting shops will ‘wipe £2m off William Hill’s earnings’
  • The closures heap pressure on the high street which has been crippled by Covid 

Gambling group William Hill has warned of a profits hit from local coronavirus lockdowns as more than 100 of its betting shops have been forced to close due to new restrictions.  

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that betting shops would be forced to close under three-tier lockdowns earlier this month.  

Pubs, casinos, gyms, hair dressers, beauty salons and bingo halls were also told to close.

It is the latest blow to the beleagured British high street which has been crippled by closures since the coronavirus pandemic began. 

The devastating effect of Covid on the high street has been most severe in the regions living under the toughest Tier Three restrictions, including Liverpool and Lancashire.

Manchester will join them in the highest band of restrictions just after midnight on Thursday. 

Gambling group William Hill has warned of a profits hit from local coronavirus lockdowns as more than 100 of its betting shops have been forced to close due to new restrictions

The closures of betting shops is the latest blow to the beleagured British high street which has been crippled by closures since the coronavirus pandemic began

Around 10% of William Hill’s 1,114 betting shops are located in regions which have been placed in so-called Tier 3 lockdown. 

Government borrowing has hit £208billion in six months of coronavirus crisis

The government has borrowed more than £208billion over six months to manage the crippling economic effects of the coronavirus crisis.

Another £36.1billion was borrowed in September – the third-highest month on record and compared to just £7billion a year ago – as tax revenues slumped and the Treasury poured out bailout money.

It means that since April £208.5billion has been added to the UK’s debt pile – nearly four times as much as in the whole of last year.

National debt hit £2.06trillion at the end of last month, equivalent to 103.5 per cent of the size of the whole economy. The ratio has not been worse since 1960, according to the Office for National Statistics.

The eye-watering figures will raise fresh concerns about a grim reckoning of tax rises and austerity when the government has to borrow the books.

There have been predictions that the situation will get even tougher as millions face unemployment as the economy struggles and coronavirus cases rise again.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak, said: ‘Whilst it’s clear that the coronavirus pandemic has had a significant impact on our public finances, things would have been far worse had we not acted in the way we did to protect millions of livelihoods.

‘I’ve been clear that our enduring priority is to protect as many jobs and businesses as possible through this pandemic, which is the fiscally responsible thing to do.

‘Through our comprehensive Plan for Jobs we’re protecting, supporting and creating millions of jobs across the country.

‘Over time and as the economy recovers, the Government will take the necessary steps to ensure the long-term health of the public finances.’

Around 8% of those are in the Liverpool region alone. 

Their shops in Wales will also have to shut when the country enters a ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown at 6pm on Friday.

It is understood around 900 staff work at William Hill’s affected shops.

The betting firm said it would likely see around £2 million wiped off its underlying earnings if 100 shops remained closed for four weeks.

This is excluding any wages support from the Government. 

This follows the permanant closure of more than 119 William Hill stores earlier this year.  

The closures come amid fears that the future of the high street is ‘hanging in the balance’ due to the coronavirus. 

There have been a huge number of job losses and store closures as a result of the pandemic, and urban areas are lying empty because so many people are still working from home.  

Union boss Paddy Lillis, general secretary of the shopworkers’ union Usdaw, previsouly said more than 125,000 retail jobs have been lost this year and 14,000 shops have closed.

While a survey by the Confederation of British Industry found that UK retailers have cut jobs at the fastest rate since the financial crisis in 2009.

The CBI report found the employment balance, which measures the number of retailers laying off and hiring staff over the past year, had dropped to minus 45 per cent in August from minus 20 per cent in May.

Restaurants that saw a sure in trade following the national lockdown earlier this year, boosted by the Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme, now lie empty.

Drinkers keen to boost trade on the high street are hampered by the Government’s draconian lockdown measures – despite official figures showing transmission of the virus in these sectors is relatively low.   

Retailers also unable to attract enough footfall to keep their business afloat have also been forced to close. 

Pret A Manger has said it plans to shut six more shops and cut around another 400 jobs after its recovery slowed in the face of tightened restrictions and rising case numbers.

In August, the coffee and sandwich chain axed 2,800 roles as part of a restructuring which saw it close 30 sites.  

This month Gourmet Burger Kitchen (GBK) also announced it is to close 26 restaurants and axe 362 roles despite being saved from administration.

The chain had been bought in a rescue deal by Boparan Restaurant Group, which also plucked Carluccio’s out of insolvency earlier in the pandemic. 

Local authorities have futher hampered trade by installing barriers on once-busy high streets to increase pavement space for ‘social distancing’. 

But the barriers cut off parking spaces essential to generating high street trade, and  squeeze drivers out from city centres.

The high street has been hit hard by the pandemic, with a survey by the Confederation of British Industry finding that UK retailers have cut jobs at the fastest rate since the financial crisis in 2009

The closures have left the high street a sorry sight, with stores closed across the UK

Retail experts warn local lockdowns to combat a second wave of coronavirus cases will only make the situation worse for retailers

Closures of high street stores are becoming endemic and will result in a dramatically different British high street once the pandemic is over. 

It will also pile pressure onto the economy, which is alreadt suffering as a result of  coronavirus. 

The true scale of the crisis emerged this week as figures were released showing 

the government has borrowed more than £208billion over six months to manage the economic effects of the crisis.

Another £36.1billion was borrowed in September – the third-highest month on record and compared to just £7billion a year ago – as tax revenues slumped and the Treasury poured out bailout money.

It means that since April £208.5billion has been added to the UK’s debt pile – nearly four times as much as in the whole of last year.

And experts warn local lockdowns to combat a second wave of coronavirus cases will only make the situation worse.

What are the rules under Tier 1 and Tier Two restrictions? 

Under Tier 1 restrictions, currently in place across most of the country, including, in this case, Suffolk, people living in these areas must adhere to the current national Covid-19 rules.

These include the 10pm pub curfew, the Rule of Six, which prohibits social gatherings of more than six people in any setting, and face masks in public places.

Under Tier 2 restrictions, currently in place in areas such as the north east, parts of the north west, London and Essex, people in those areas must adhere to stricter rules.

The major change is in household mixing, with people in Tier 2 banned from mixing from other households in indoor settings. The Rule of Six still applies to outdoor settings, including pub gardens. 

Tier One areas – medium risk – must follow current social distancing measures, the ‘rule of six’, and a pub curfew of 10pm.

Households in Tier Two – high risk areas – have the same restrictions, plus a ban on households mixing indoors.

While Tier Three areas – very high risk – also cannot leave their region unless for essential reasons such as work, education or health.

Liverpool, Manchester and Leicestershire are currently in the highest band of restrictions. 

Betting group William Hill have expressed concern that the restrictions, which will affect around 10% of their high street stores, will dramatically affect their business. 

A spokesperson for William Hill said: ‘We do not understand the inclusion of the betting shops in Tier 3 restrictions. 

‘We should be classified as non-essential retail as we were during the reopening in June and do not understand why betting shops, with all the measures we have put in place to make them COVID-secure, have been forced to shut when the rest of retail has not.’ 

The group – which is being bought by US casino giant Caesars after agreeing a £2.9 billion deal late last month – posted a 9% fall in net revenues for the 13 weeks to September 29.

But this marks a significant improvement on the 32% plunge seen in its first half.

Retail like-for-likes sales bounced back, from a 49% decline in the first half to a 2% fall in the third quarter, as the number of customers in shops returned close to levels seen before the crisis. 

Footfall has now ground to a halt as local restrictions come into force.   

But as local lockdowns come into effect to control a second wave of Covid-19, the group said: ‘As governments vary their response to the Covid-19 pandemic, we will continue to mitigate the impact on our business through careful cost control and cash management.’ 

How more than 210,000 job losses have been revealed by major UK firms since lockdown began 

Some 210,781 job losses have been announced by major British employers since the start of the coronavirus lockdown in March as follows:  

October 16 – Pret A Manger – 400

October 14 – Gourmet Burger Kitchen – 362

October 7 – Greene King – 800 

October 6 – Virgin Money – 400 

October 6 – Vp – 150 

October 5 – Cineworld – 5,500 (many cuts likely to be temporary) 

September 30 – TSB – 900 

September 30 – Shell – 9,000 worldwide 

September 29 – Ferguson – 1,200

September 22 – Wetherspoon – 400 to 450

September 22 – Whitbread – 6,000

September 18 – Investec – 210

September 15 – Waitrose – 124

September 14 – London City Airport – 239

September 9 – Lloyds Bank – 865

September 9 – Pizza Hut – 450

September 4 – Virgin Atlantic – 1,150

September 3 – Costa – 1,650

August 27 – Pret a Manger – 2,800 (includes 1,000 announced on July 6)

August 26 – Gatwick Airport – 600

August 25 – Co-operative Bank – 350

August 20 – Alexander Dennis – 650

August 18 – Bombardier – 95

August 18 – Marks & Spencer – 7,000

August 14 – Yo! Sushi – 250

August 14 – River Island – 350

August 12 – NatWest – 550

August 11 – InterContinental Hotels – 650 worldwide

August 11 – Debenhams – 2,500

August 7 – Evening Standard – 115

August 6 – Travelex – 1,300

August 6 – Wetherspoons – 110 to 130

August 5 – M&Co – 380

August 5 – Arsenal FC – 55

August 5 – WH Smith – 1,500

August 4 – Dixons Carphone – 800

August 4 – Pizza Express – 1,100 at risk

August 3 – Hays Travel – up to 878

August 3 – DW Sports – 1,700 at risk

July 31 – Byron – 651

July 30 – Pendragon – 1,800

July 29 – Waterstones – unknown number of head office roles

July 28 – Selfridges – 450

July 27 – Oak Furnitureland – 163 at risk

July 23 – Dyson – 600 in UK, 300 overseas

July 22 – Mears – fewer than 200

July 20 – Marks & Spencer – 950 at risk

July 17 – Azzurri Group (owns Zizzi and Ask Italian) – up to 1,200

July 16 – Genting – 1,642 at risk

July 16 – Burberry – 150 in UK, 350 overseas

July 15 – Banks Mining – 250 at risk

July 15 – Buzz Bingo – 573 at risk

July 14 – Vertu – 345 July 14 – DFS – up to 200 at risk

July 9 – General Electric – 369

July 9 – Eurostar – unknown number

July 9 – Boots – 4,000

July 9 – John Lewis – 1,300 at risk

July 9 – Burger King – 1,600 at risk

July 7 – Reach (owns Daily Mirror and Daily Express newspapers) – 550

July 6 – Pret a Manger – 1,000 at risk

July 2 – Casual Dining Group (owns Bella Italia and Cafe Rouge) – 1,909

July 1 – SSP (owns Upper Crust) – 5,000 at risk

July 1 – Arcadia (owns TopShop) – 500

July 1 – Harrods – 700

July 1 – Virgin Money – 300

June 30 – Airbus – 1,700

June 30 – TM Lewin – 600

June 30 – Smiths Group – ‘some job losses’

June 25 – Royal Mail – 2,000

June 24 – Jet2 – 102

June 24 – Swissport – 4,556

June 24 – Crest Nicholson – 130

June 23 – Shoe Zone – unknown number of jobs in head office

June 19 – Aer Lingus – 500

June 17 – HSBC – unknown number of jobs in UK, 35,000 worldwide

June 15 – Jaguar Land Rover – 1,100

June 15 – Travis Perkins – 2,500

June 12 – Le Pain Quotidien – 200

June 11 – Heathrow – at least 500

June 11 – Bombardier – 600

June 11 – Johnson Matthey – 2,500

June 11 – Centrica – 5,000

June 10 – Quiz – 93

June 10 – The Restaurant Group (owns Frankie and Benny’s) – 3,000

June 10 – Monsoon Accessorise – 545

June 10 – Everest Windows – 188

June 8 – BP – 10,000 worldwide

June 8 – Mulberry – 375

June 5 – Victoria’s Secret – 800 at risk

June 5 – Bentley – 1,000

June 4 – Aston Martin – 500

June 4 – Lookers – 1,500

May 29 – Belfast International Airport – 45

May 28 – Debenhams (in second announcement) – ‘hundreds’ of jobs

May 28 – EasyJet – 4,500 worldwide

May 26 – McLaren – 1,200

May 22 – Carluccio’s – 1,000

May 21 – Clarks – 900

May 20 – Rolls-Royce – 9,000

May 20 – Bovis Homes – unknown number

May 19 – Ovo Energy – 2,600

May 19 – Antler – 164

May 15 – JCB – 950 at risk

May 13 – Tui – 8,000 worldwide

May 12 – Carnival UK (owns P&O Cruises and Cunard) – 450

May 11 – P&O Ferries – 1,100 worldwide

May 5 – Virgin Atlantic – 3,150

May 1 – Ryanair – 3,000 worldwide

April 30 – Oasis Warehouse – 1,800

April 29 – WPP – unknown number

April 28 – British Airways – 12,000

April 23 – Safran Seats – 400

April 23 – Meggitt – 1,800 worldwide

April 21 – Cath Kidston – 900

April 17 – Debenhams – 422

March 31 – Laura Ashley – 268

March 30 – BrightHouse – 2,400 at risk

March 27 – Chiquito – 1,500 at risk

 

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