Yesterday Tim Martin and JD Weatherspoon announced they were not paying their 43,000 workers until the company was first reimbursed for their wages by the government. JD Wetherspoon’s decision leaves 43,000 people without their next pay date, many with little or no means of paying for rent, bills or food.
Adding insult to injury today an email was sent by JD Weatherspoon to their suppliers, informing them that they are also being treated with the same disdain as their workers.
The email sent to suppliers today from JD Weatherspoon read: “We are asking for a moratorium on payments, until the pubs re-open, at which point we intend to clear outstanding payments, within a short timeframe.” The email was seen by sustainability website Footprint.
Footprint reported that the email, which is signed by Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin, continued: “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.”
Huge businesses that buy enormous volumes of products and services, can if they choose to, bully suppliers in many ways. The email asks for ‘a moratorium on payments, until the pubs reopen’ but clearly suppliers are being told in no uncertain terms that they won’t be paid. And it is blatant bullying. It also by using terms like ‘we are kindly asking’ insults the reader’s intelligence, the message can be translated easily, and we’ll let readers make their own translations.
All the suppliers that received the email must immediately have frozen. Who can possibly predict when pubs will re-open, and as such the email serves notice that payments are being held indefinitely. If someone at JD Weatherspoon knows when the current situation will end and pubs will re-open, please pass that information on to us all.
JD Wetherspoon operates an estate that contains circa 900 pubs and a growing number of Wetherspoon hotels, mostly in the UK and some in Ireland. The number of suppliers impacted will be huge. Some suppliers will provide to many, most or even all Wetherspoon outlets, but each outlet will also have unique local suppliers.
These suppliers will range from large businesses to small and everything in between, and this measure will place an enormous additional burden on them. The burden will place some in a position where they have no choice but to pass that burden on in turn to their suppliers and their people. Many will be specialist suppliers to the hospitality industry who needless to say, like us all are currently facing a very challenging business climate.
Undoubtedly for some it will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
We have published many examples in recent days and weeks of hospitality business large and small that once again, like us all, are facing difficulties from the COVID-19 pandemic. Most have a culture of looking after their people and adhere to it when times get tough.
The government’s action to support businesses like JD Wetherspoon, who of course like us all need that support, needs to be actioned in a way that does not allow businesses to set an additional cash-flow crisis in motion through hospitality that will only get worse if not controlled.