Wetherspoon boss denies pubs have been hit by staff shortage

The boss of pub chain JD Wetherspoon has denied reports that his pubs have been hit with a staff shortage due to Brexit.

Tim Martin, who was a vocal supporter of the UK exiting the EU, told investors on Wednesday that a Telegraph story “misrepresented Wetherspoon’s position”.

He said it “clearly isn’t true” that the pub group is facing staff shortages following the reopening of hospitality venues across the UK.

However, punters claimed they had a whopping two hour wait for a round of drinks in a Wetherspoons pub in Exeter, over the Bank Holiday Weekend, reported Devon Live.

And, last week trade association UK Hospitality said the sector was facing a shortfall of 188,000 workers. The shortage of front-of-house staff and chefs was said to be “particularly acute”, reported the BBC.

The trade body said hospitality has been has been hit hard by the pandemic, and is also facing shortages due to Brexit.

It comes after UK Hospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls warned that he industry faced “a long road to recovery” – with many businesses making a loss even if they have reopened under the more relaxed coronavirus restrictions.

Pubs, restaurants and cafes are now able to serve customers indoors but they have to abide by a range of restrictions which includes groups of no more than six – or two households of any size – being allowed inside and people having to order, eat and drink while seated in venues where alcohol is served.

Ms Nicholls said: “All of our businesses are suffering and sadly we have lost 660,000 members of staff.

“Furlough and business support has kept those numbers as low as we can but there is a big risk as we come out of this pandemic as these businesses are going to be very heavily in debt.

“They are much more indebted than any other sector of the economy. In particular, they have got high levels of rent debt so the shadow of Covid is going to hang over these businesses for about six months before we know that we can get them through.”