Rockfish owner calls for help to ease rural ‘debt mountain’

Rural firms ‘need help to ease debt mountain’ and stave off further job losses

Would this be: “Nationalising the Hospitality Industry”? Was this idea on the Heinz 57+1 list? Is this an appeal over the heads of Team Devon and HotSW? – Owl

Harriet Dennys www.dailymail.co.uk 

Rural firms need Government help to deal with their coronavirus ‘debt mountain’ to prevent further job losses, Devon restaurateur and campaigner Mitch Tonks has warned.

Tonks, who owns the Rockfish chain of seafood restaurants on the South Coast, said the VAT cut and dining discount announced last week would help hospitality firms but many will still struggle to repay loans taken on to survive the crisis.

He said the Government must allow pubs and restaurants to make repayments linked to profits, with lower payments in the winter when tourist trade slumps.

Tonks also suggested the Government could become a shareholder in regional hospitality firms by buying some of their debt.

He said: ‘Our business will take five years to pay off its coronavirus loan but if our loan was converted to equity, this would help us grow.’ Tonks and other regional business owners recently had a call with Boris Johnson, whose response he described as ‘supportive’.

He added: ‘It would be wise for the Government to consider the next challenge which is the debt mountain we’ve taken on to survive.’