Wetherspoons boss Tim Martin faced backlash after suggesting staff get jobs at Tesco © AFP/Getty Images
Wetherspoons boss Tim Martin faced backlash after suggesting staff get jobs at Tesco © AFP/Getty Images

Wetherspoons withholds supplier payments amid Covid-19 outbreak

26 March 2020

Wetherspoons has suspended payments to its suppliers until its pubs reopen following the UK’s coronavirus lockdown

Firms supplying food and drink to the pub chain were told they would not be paid until Wetherspoons’ pubs were allowed to reopen.

Last week, the UK government ordered pubs, bars and restaurants to close in order to limit the spread of Covid-19. 

In an email seen by Footprint, the pub chain said: “We are asking for a moratorium on payments, until the pubs reopen, at which point we intend to clear outstanding payments, within a short timeframe.

“We understand that this puts significant pressure on our suppliers, but we are kindly asking for your assistance during this very difficult period.

“A number of our suppliers have already offered assistance and we would be most grateful for your cooperation as well.”

A spokesperson for Wetherspoons confirmed it had written to suppliers, adding: “These are extraordinary times and the company is asking for assistance from suppliers. Payments will begin to suppliers once the pubs reopen.”

Suppliers have been told they can contact Wetherspoons to “discuss individual cases”. 

The decision to halt payment to suppliers comes as the pub chain faced backlash after it said it could not afford to pay its 43,000 staff in the UK until wages were reimbursed by the government at the end of April 2020. Wetherspoons has since announced it would pay its staff on 3 April. 

Last week, the UK government advised public sector buyers to continue paying suppliers as normal, even if they can't fulfil contracts, to protect the health of supply chains in future.

Separately, Dyson announced it is producing 10,000 ventilators to help prepare UK hospitals for an influx of coronavirus patients. The UK government had previously called on engineering firms to divert their production lines to make vital equipment. 

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