Hospitality boss says Liverpool nightlife is doing okay – but more could be done to make it better
3 weeks ago
A top hospitality boss has scotched Twitter – or X – claims Liverpool nightlife is on a rapid downhill slide – but adds more could be done to make it better.
Matt Farrell, co-founder and director of the award-winning GSG Hospitality which owns venues like Duke Street Market, NORD, Manolo, El Bandito, and more, says the cost of living crisis is having a massive impact on nightlife in the city.
But he adds: “There’s still an appetite for people to get out and get together.
“I wouldn’t say there aren’t people out – there are. But they are very conscious of how they socialise.
“For instance, we are seeing more people out for coffee and brunch, there definitely an increase in people in the city in the daytime, that’s on the up.
“But what used to be okay to keep bars and businesses profitable now isn’t.”
High inflation and energy price rises are clearly taking their toll, says Matt, with businesses feeling the effects just like the customers are at home.
Supply costs are going up: “And ultimately people have less money in their pockets,” continues Matt.
“Add to that that there are fewer people in town for work and, again, everything has a knock-on effect.”
A reduced VAT and a reformed system similar to some of our European counterparts would be fairer for businesses to help them ride the current storm, according to Matt, and keep prices down.
“The whole VAT system needs to be overhauled and we need to see it brought down. This would help current businesses and those wanting to start up.
“Rishi Sunak is aware of the issue which is why VAT was reduced to 5% from 20% during the pandemic, which helped enormously, and there is now a lot of noise about this so it can’t keep being ignored.
“The Government has to start addressing the issue of an unfair system,” adds Matt, remembering too plans for a hospitality minister which were scrapped!
Locally, Matt, who is on the board of Liverpool Nightlife CIC, says continued moves to make the city safer will encourage more people to come into town, especially from 6pm onwards.
“Some late night buses have been reintroduced but more need to be put back on to make sure people feel safe, and know they can get into and out of town and be okay.
“That’s hugely important.”
Matt says it is, without doubt, a ‘strange time’ coming out of Covid and dealing with a financial crisis that has seen instability and everyone having to tighten their belts.
But he says, on the positive side, Liverpool is looking forward to a good Christmas – the best time for hospitality in the city.
“People are wanting to come into the city and celebrate – and we saw in Covid how important it is to come together and socialise, for our well-being and mental health.
“Town is looking busier and getting busier still and hopefully it will be a good year (not blighted by the train strikes we had in 2022).
“Of course it makes a difference for people at a time when they can go into a supermarket and spend £100 and their fridge isn’t even full.
“But there’s lots going on this Christmas. We are gearing up to give people a great time when they do come into town, and there are affordable ways people can do it.
“Things need to change for a more positive outlook long term, but hopefully the festive season will be busy and people will come and have a great time. The signs so far are good.
“The people of a Liverpool have triumphed in the face of adversity before and I have no doubt we will do it again.”