Late-night venues warn of ‘financial Armageddon’

Over three quarters of businesses planning to make staff redundant without further government support

SCOTTISH nightclub owners have warned of “financial Armageddon” after a survey of the sector found that over half of businesses (58%) may not survive longer than two more months without government support.

Scotland’s Night-Time Industries Association (SNTIA) surveyed its memberships of nightclubs, late-night bars and live music venues to assess the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the sector.

Although live music venues have been given a provisional opening date of September 14, the rest of the sector is still in the dark about when it might be able to reopen.

The SNTIA survey found 83% of businesses were preparing to make staff redundant, with 76% expecting to lay off more than half of their workforce.

The group is now calling for an extension to the UK Government’s Job Retention Scheme – currently scheduled to end in October – and a “clear indication” of when venues can reopen.

NTIA director and Sub Club managing director, Mike Grieve, said: “Of all the affected sectors of the Scottish economy, hospitality has been among the hardest hit by the pandemic.

“In the case of nightclubs, we were the first to shut down and without a shadow of doubt we will be the last of the last to re-open. Meanwhile there has been a staggering lack of support available to keep these economically significant and culturally vital businesses alive to protect the future of our hugely vibrant nightlife sector.

“Every generation of young people needs to access music and nightlife in safe and professionally managed environments, and I fear that a huge swathe of Scotland’s best operators are on the verge of going out of business entirely, leaving the way open for illegal and unlicensed events to exploit the inevitable demand that exists.

“We urgently need some clarification of the perceived timescales for reopening and without financial support in the meantime the consequences for nightlife in Scotland are potentially cataclysmic.”

Donald MacLeod, owner of Glasgow clubs The Garage and The Cathouse, added: “Let no-one forget, least of all the Scottish Government, that Scotland’s night-time economy is a hugely important economic driver of music and cultural tourism, leisure, and business growth for our towns and cities, as well as a major national employer. As a sector we were amongst the first to close and will probably be the last to reopen.

“It is only right therefore, to avoid thousands of job losses and hundreds of businesses from going under, that it is treated on a par as our other art and industry sectors. It must be given the emergency Scottish Government funding it so urgently requires in order to survive.”