JD Wetherspoon has said it does not intend to pay money owed to its suppliers until after its pubs reopen following the coronavirus crisis.
In an email sent to suppliers and 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.”
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.”
The policy is set to heap further pressure on suppliers to the foodservice sector who have seen much of their business evaporate in the past week as pubs, restaurants and hotels were ordered to shut their doors.
One senior industry source said suppliers were likely to “go down” if payments for goods already provided are withheld for weeks or even months.
In its latest financial year Wetherspoon reported revenues of £1.8bn on pre-tax profit of £102.5m.
Wetherspoon is already under fire for telling workers it could not afford to pay them while pubs are closed until it receives money under the government’s “furlough” scheme whereby the state will cover 80% of wages.
Wetherspoon has been approached for comment on its moratorium on supplier payments.