Brighton Pier Group seeks government plan for the safe re-opening of late-night venues

The owner of bars including Chelsea’s Embargo Republica on Monday pressed the Government to come up with a plan for the safe re-opening of late-night venues.

Brighton Pier Group operates 12 premium bars but said that it had been frustrated by the failure of ministers to offer a commitment to a restart date.

It has revamped some of its larger venues to trial a format without live music and dancing, including six nights at both Le Fez, Putney and Embargo at Chelsea. However, it admits that DJ-led dancing will present significant challenges given the current Covid-19 regulations.

The full re-opening of late-night bars had been scheduled to start in October, but has been put back by the Government. With the furlough scheme due to end in a few weeks, the uncertainty has prompted the company to lay off staff in the bars division.

Brighton Pier chief executive Anne Ackord said: “There remains an urgent need for the Government to agree a plan for the re-opening of our late night estate so that we can manage their return to business as quickly and effectively as possible.”

The company employs about 500 people across its three divisions, which include the arcades and other attractions at Brighton Palace Pier and eight indoor mini golf sites under the Paradise island Adventure Golf brand. Food-led bars Lowlander in central London and the outside terrace at Coalition in Brighton have also been able to re-open.

Having put in place extensive measures to ensure social distancing, Brighton said trading since the start of July had been better than originally expected. Revenues at re-opened sites are running at 77% of the same period last year, led by strong trading in golf.

Ackord said that while visitor numbers were down on last year, people attending the attractions were spending 20% per head more than previously.