Hospitality and leisure businesses are coming under extreme pressure as concerns rise about the energy price crisis.

Unlike consumer energy bills, there is no price cap on commercial energy costs.

And there is growing concern among businesses that the long-term effects will have an even greater impact on the sector than the Covid lockdowns. 

One business worried about rising energy bills is Dodo Pub Company.

Dodo Pubs group includes The Part and Parcel in Witney as well as The Rusty Bicycle, The Rickety Press and The The Up in Arms in Oxford, the Bottle of Sauce in Cheltenham and The Last Crumb in Caversham.

Co-founder Chris Manners said: “The energy price increase is going to be tough for all hospitality businesses.

"As a business, we’re seeing our energy bills increase by 250 per cent compared to what we paid last year.

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"We’re working hard to be as efficient as possible with our usage and have so far, managed to avoid price increases for our customers, but it’s likely to become a reality very soon.”

Meanwhile The Fleece on Church Green, which is run by Peach Pubs, said it has had "an unbelievably challenging couple of years".

Peach also runs The Thatch and The James Figg in Thame, The Fishes in North Hinksey, Oxford, and The Bear and Ragged Staff in Cumnor.

Peach managing director Hamish Stoddart said: "We have been closed for lockdowns with no revenue, protected by the furlough scheme, and now are coping with incredible inflation on all our purchases - gorgeous steak, lobsters, white wine, Coke and cold lager."

But he said: "Power is the biggest shock."

"We try not just to pass it on to our guests and really think how we keep loyal guests. The biggest challenge is gas and electricity costs.  We think the cost of power could rise to £90,000- £100,000 per annum per pub."

The group is thinking about how to cut down these energy bills.

Mr Stoddart said: "We managed to buy two years’ worth of renewable electricity and gas 10 months ago, so actually, our challenge is a 15-month project to find a way."

And it is striving to be net zero as soon as it can. 

"We are also working to reduce gas and electricity usage by better kitchen kit, better insulation, better cooling in the cellar and more choice on the menu of lower carbon impact dishes.

"This will get us to net zero and to power reductions of 15-30 per cent that we need.”

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UK Hospitality, Night-Time Industries Association, Music Venue Trust, The British Institute of Innkeeping and The British Beer and Pub Association have said businesses and jobs in the sector are at grave risk, and asked for an urgent support package from the Government. 

Steve Alton, CEO of the British Institute of Innkeeping, said many pubs' position was fragile.

“The majority of our members are single site operators, running small, independent businesses at the heart of their communities.

"Without urgent action from Government, these vital spaces for social connection, supporting local jobs, supply chains and community groups, will drown under the weight of the rising cost of doing business," he said. 

"In many cases, the impact on their businesses is now worse than that of the pandemic, which has already left them with average debts of £40,000 per pub.

"The stark reality of the challenges now facing them cannot be underestimated. Government must act now to ensure we don’t lose these essential local community hubs for ever.”



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