A city pub magnate has described his finances as “critical” after already racking up £115,000 of debt since the outbreak of the coronavirus.
Businessman Charles Smythe is faced with the hefty bill after being left unable to pay rent or invoices from big suppliers while his five Canterbury bars are closed.
And the 50-year-old - who runs the Old City Bar, Black Griffin, Seven Stars, Dolphin and Thomas Becket - believes his outstanding payments could rise above £200,000 in the next two months.
Despite this, the tavern tycoon insists he will not close any of his watering holes.
“I won’t get rid of my pubs,” he maintained. “Cash flow is pretty critical.
“My outstanding debt at the moment is £115,000 - and that’s going up each week.
“I’ve paid off my little suppliers - like my cleaners and butchers.
“But with the big companies - like the breweries and major suppliers - I’m saying to them, ‘you’re not getting any money until I get some in’.”
Brewery Shepherd Neame, which owns the Old City Bar, has suspended rent for its licensees during the Covid-19 crisis.
But Mr Smythe says the landlords of his four other pubs want him to pay all outstanding rent in full once he is able to restart trading.
“Lots of them have not cancelled the rent,” he said.
“Punch Taverns and EI Enterprise still want the full rent, but they want to collect it after we’ve reopened.
“If the rents aren’t waived, my debt will be over £200,000 in the next six to eight weeks.”
In addition to this, Mr Smythe says he has a total of £8,000 of opened and unopened beer stored in casks in the cellars of his pubs.
Despite being able to claim back duty on out-of-date beverages from the government and send a selection of untouched barrels back to breweries, he expects this to leave him more than £5,000 out of pocket.
Meanwhile, Wetherspoon says its entire stock of beer across its sites in the area is sitting in cellars unable to be used.
Spokesman Eddie Gershon said: “The pubs closed without warning, so there was no opportunity to do anything with their beer supplies.
“The pubs are closed and locked up, so the state of the beer is not a major concern.”