Licensing trust sheds workers

Eighty-seven people will be made redundant by Invercargill licensing trust ILT in the first wave of job losses expected at several southern licensing trusts.

ILT yesterday announced 87 of its 606 employees will lose their jobs in changes resulting from the Covid-19 lockdown’s impact.

Chief executive Chris Ramsay said the business, which operated more than 20 hospitality businesses, was unable to keep all its staff in the changed economic environment. With recovery predicted to be lengthy, commercial sustainability of the organisation was paramount.

While the situation was challenging, staff and team managers worked through the consultation period with the "highest degree of professionalism which speaks volumes about the calibre of people involved".

Further north, the Oamaru Licensing Trust, which operates four businesses, was in the process of reviewing staff numbers and hours, general manager Cathy Maaka said.

"There will be a drop in our staffing ... some staff will end up working reduced hours while they may not lose their jobs completely."

Mataura Licensing Trust (MLT), which managed 13 businesses in Eastern Southland, was also feeling the sting of Covid-19.

MLT general manager Mark Paterson could not be reached yesterday to discuss the trust’s staffing situation, but it had pulled out of a historic arrangement with Gore District Council to cover 25% of any yearly operational loss of the MLT Event Centre.

In a letter to Gore District Council chief executive Stephen Parry, Mr Paterson said the trust was "entrenched in survival mode".

"It is our fiscal responsibility to the community that we survive to fight another day which means we cannot have the uncertainty of the loss that the event centre will incur in the forthcoming year. In all honesty 25% of the loss over the next year could cripple us."

To cover the shortfall Gore district councillors would consider a further 0.2% rates increase to 2.84% at an extraordinary council meeting today.

In contrast, Clutha Licensing Trust general manager Mike Curtis said the Clutha trust, which owns five hotels and a liquor store, was in a "strong" position financially emerging from lockdown.

"We were trading very strongly going into lockdown, and enjoying some good increases in revenues, so our strategy has been to retain and continue paying staff as part of our commitment to the district.

"We hope to continue that growth as we see our customers return, and we need our people to help achieve that." — Additional reporting Richard Davison


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