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‘PM’s comments to avoid businesses like ours is appalling’ – bakery café chain owner hits out at Boris Johnson advice

PUBLISHED: 15:09 17 March 2020 | UPDATED: 15:09 17 March 2020

Two Magpies co-owner Steve Magnall has hit out at the government's approach to the coronavirus outbreak   Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Two Magpies co-owner Steve Magnall has hit out at the government's approach to the coronavirus outbreak Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Archant

A bakery and café chain owner has called for government help after takings plummeted overnight following the prime minister’s advice to avoid “pubs, clubs, theatres and other such social venues”.

Steve Magnall and Rebecca Bishop, owners of the Two Magpies bakery chain  Picture: TWO MAGPIESSteve Magnall and Rebecca Bishop, owners of the Two Magpies bakery chain Picture: TWO MAGPIES

Boris Johnson’s comments in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak have “massively impacted” sales at The Two Magpies, which operates bakery and café outlets in Southwold, Norwich, Aldeburgh and Darsham, said co-owner Steve Magnall.

The prime minister stopped short of an outright ban – a move the hospitality industry has argued would have helped businesses with their insurance claims. The sector has been highly critical of the stance.

MORE – ‘It’s a business nightmare scenario’ – pubs group owner hits out at ‘conflicting’ government advice

“We are concerned over the prime minister’s comments last night about avoiding contact in places such as ours. This has massively impacted sales today and we are now planning for the worst,” said Mr Magnall.

“Our concerns are for our staff in this uncertain time. We will run out of cash if customers do not come into the cafés and this will impact on employment.

Steve Magnall said the Two Magpies bakery would be focusing its efforts on supplying staples to East Anglian customers during the crisis   Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNSteve Magnall said the Two Magpies bakery would be focusing its efforts on supplying staples to East Anglian customers during the crisis Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

“The government has to intervene and support the staff and business so we can pay peoples’ wages, suspend rent and mortgage payments and protect the future of all these people and businesses. The high street will be dead if not and will never recover.

“Boris Johnson needs to stop fudging the issue and avoiding supporting businesses. His comments yesterday to avoid businesses like ours is appalling and shows a complete misunderstanding of small businesses and our importance to the economy.

“We employ 100 staff who pay taxes, have mortgages, etc. We have invested all our own money to grow our business and now we could lose it all because of comments like the prime minister made yesterday.”

The business was contingency planning around potentially closing its cafés and only doing take out, while also cutting its range and increasing bread production, as this would be a staple for everyone in the coming weeks, he said.

Two Magpies Bakery products  Picture: TWO MAGPIES BAKERYTwo Magpies Bakery products Picture: TWO MAGPIES BAKERY


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