The turnover that publicans are seeing is now either equal to or better than it was pre-COVID, according to the Vintners' Federation of Ireland (VFI) President.
Speaking to the Pat Kenny Show, VFI President and Fine Gael Cllr John Clendennen said the majority of publicans that responded to the VFI survey are reporting higher turnover and profit and have a positive outlook.
“There’s a sense of positivity in the air, and I think you have to cast your mind back to March 2020 and where we were at with COVID-19 and the dreaded pandemic,” he said.
“The impact that it had on our sector, and all the uncertainty that it brought – but I think what it brought along with uncertainty was a level of resistance, innovation and diversity across our trade.”
Getting the sector going
Mr Clendennen said that from a food and accommodation perspective, the VFI may struggle to retain the 9% hospitality VAT rate.
“Whether it be the supports that were there during COVID, the likes of the Temporary Business Energy Support Scheme, or hospitality VAT rate of 9%, these are the key stimulus that got our sector going again,” he said.
“From the survey that we carried out, one in every three of our members is planning to do some sort of an investment, to continue development in their business and to continue that level of innovation.”
Mr Clendennen said this development is stalled by issues with cash flow.
“There needs to be a greater understanding and acceptance from financial institutions that pubs are trading profitably now,” he said.
“During the multiple lockdowns that we saw, it was very much many perceived cases of Armageddon, and we did see people exit the trade.
“Those supports are what gave the confidence and stability to our trades to keep moving.”
Cllr Clendennen said better turnover for pubs may not necessarily mean the price of alcohol will return to pre-pandemic prices.
“There have been price increases from suppliers and the vast majority of our members right across the country would have seen their margin erode even though there have been increases at the tap,” he said.
“There are cases in isolation that you hear media commentary about, and €10 pints and so on, that's not the majority of pubs across the country.”
Cllr Clendennen said pubs in rural Ireland should continue to receive support in order for the business to continue.
“I think fundamentally what we need to do in rural Ireland is get to transport connection and provide a raft of options there in relation to that transport,” he said.
“I think we need to try and facilitate how we can actually connect our towns and villages more to encourage people to move about and there really is a sense of an appetite out there post-pandemic.”
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