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Red Deer falls victim to third lockdown as pubs struggle across Sheffield

The manager of a city-centre institution has handed in his notice, citing "incredibly difficult trading conditions" caused by the pandemic.

Red Deer Sheffield
Photo by PookieFugglestein on Wikimedia Commons.

Popular city-centre pub The Red Deer may close in June after its manager announced he was handing in his notice to pubco landlord Star Pubs.

In a statement Jake Nickles, who has run the Pitt St pub since 2010, said he had made the decision after experiencing "incredibly difficult trading conditions" during recent months.

"As it stands, we will be here until June," Nickles continued. "In the interim we will continue to trade under the restrictions set out in Lockdown, utilising CityGrab for deliveries and offering some free delivery services (within 5 miles) when possible."

The pub industry, which was already struggling before the pandemic, has faced unprecedented challenges since the first national lockdown in March.

In a change of policy from previous national and local lockdowns, pubs are now banned from offering alcohol takeaways on the basis that it could encourage drinkers to gather outside pubs.

The rule does not apply to supermarkets, even though there is a similar risk of people buying alcohol to drink together outside.

Sheffield City Council and CAMRA have called on the government to change the policy, saying that pubs and bars are "essential" to the local economy.

“The new lockdown restrictions state that takeaway alcohol can still be sold in supermarkets and other shops but not pubs, putting them at an unfair disadvantage and effectively shutting down their only livelihood," said Cabinet Member for Business Mazher Iqbal.

"Pubs are the lifeblood of communities and this is especially true in Sheffield, where our eclectic mix of excellent independent pubs and breweries is one of the great highlights of the city."

As well as The Red Deer, several other local pubs have announced that they won't reopen after lockdown. These include fellow city-centre residents The Devonshire Cat and The Old Red Lion at Grenoside.

A recent BBC documentary highlighted the financial problems caused by big pubcos, whose tenants are often contracted to buy the pubco's own beer at inflated prices.

CAMRA say that pubs are currently "haemorrhaging" costs, and that as many as 10,000 could close and never reopen.

"It is clear now more than ever that the government must introduce a new, long-term and sector-specific financial support package to help these businesses survive the coming months," said chairman Nik Antona.

It is unclear whether the Red Deer will reopen with a new publican after July or be taken over directly by landlord Star Pubs, which is owned by Heineken UK.

by Sam Gregory (he/him)
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