A recent Financial Times article reported that many gas and electricity suppliers are rejecting contract renewals or sharply increasing prices for the pub and hospitality sector as they are deemed as ‘high risk’ customers.
According to the British Beer and Pub Association, around 30,000 pubs are facing contract renewal rejections or more expensive off-contract tariffs. The article states that many suppliers have admitted that they have stopped accepting new customers from hard-hit sectors such as hospitality as they dealt with a surge in bad debts from existing customers.
As an energy supplier to thousands of pubs across the UK, we don’t believe in penalising this deemed high risk sector by turning our back on pub customers or hiking up prices unnecessarily. Instead, our ‘virtual doors’ have remained open and will continue to do so as hospitality prepares to re-open as part of the Government’s roadmap to recovery.
We witnessed the rise in debt levels as businesses were forced to close. Direct debits were cancelled, and in some cases, businesses ceased trading. Many customers we were speaking to had never been in debt before and were rightly concerned about how they would pay their bills. A unique period of disruption required us to look at things differently. At CNG we have tried to take a long-term view and a sensible approach to reviewing pub contracts. There will of course be exceptions where we unfortunately have been unable to support some, as all business circumstances are different, but we have avoided a blanket approach for pubs to make it as fair as possible for customers.
In many cases contracts have been reviewed on an individual basis, based on several factors to provide a fair price. We have also worked with customers to support them with debt, encouraging them to speak to us or their broker, and where possible payment plans have been agreed. This approach has led to 79% of pubs renewing with CNG.
Overall, our pricing to all sectors has remained stable throughout the pandemic in line with the market and prices have not changed based on sector.
We believe SMEs are the beating heart of the UK and our aim is to work together to support them as they begin the road to economic recovery. Like many others across the UK we are looking forward to our local pub re-opening and enjoying a pint in the beer garden.