Our guide to help leisure businesses out of lockdown

Category: COVID-19Leisure - Posted On: Jun 29 2020

On 24 June, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed that pubs, beer gardens, restaurants and other leisure businesses can open in July, with detailed guidance being provided.

As members of various leisure associations including ASSCBH&HPA and Scotland Food & Drink, we have been supporting our leisure sector clients and other members of these associations to make sure they are prepared to reopen.

Below, we highlight the various issues and opportunities that can help to guide your business out of lockdown and strengthen your business moving forward.


The last three months have seen a number of grant and loan finance measures issued by the UK and Scottish Government, and it’s important for all businesses to recognise their funding requirements for their immediate future but also for the years to come.

There is a limited time frame to apply for funding through many of these sources so if you think you may require additional finance, speak to a member of our EQ Leisure team who can help you understand your circumstances and help you secure finance, if required.


Whilst businesses will recover as best they can, we cannot stress enough the importance of a robust, up to date and accurate budgeting and management accounting function. This will provide the framework of a plan to work towards and help you identify your financing requirements in the year ahead. New expenditure, such as greater cleaning costs due to COVID-19 will need to be factored into your thinking for the future.

We can help put robust financial controls in place and supply detailed management reports that will be tailored to suit your business.


With the current support offered by HMRC, many will have taken advantage of some of the tax deferrals whether that be in personal tax, VAT or time to pay arrangements. However, this is merely a deferral and all businesses should be fully aware, within their budgets, what their future VAT, PAYE, income/corporation tax amounts payable are.

In planning, using COVID-19 related losses could be useful and minor matters like change of company year end might provide some surprising cash flow benefits particularly where you’ve had a great period followed by a rather challenging one. Remuneration planning and its optimisation is also critical.

As we look to the future, the Chancellor may well take the opportunity to consider how wealth is taxed and therefore it would come as no surprise if Capital Gains Tax or Inheritance Tax came under the microscope in the Autumn Budget.

As always, good planning is critical and we can help make sure your tax affairs are properly planned in the most efficient matter.


Often, difficult markets can provide opportunities to pass assets down the generations to family members and this crisis is no different in this respect. We recommend that you consider your business structure and your future objectives which might lead you seeking to take advantage of the current position. We can discuss your options and advise which may be best to fit your circumstances.

Asset protection

Coming through turbulent times like this can make you reassess your attitude to risk. Often, business structures evolve over many years with little regard to the common sense and, business and personal risk attaching the structure. At this time, it’s never been more important to assess your options and protect your assets.

Our team have helped numerous clients restructure their businesses to ensure they are in the best position to grow and protect their assets. We can help you assess your situation and provide the best solution.

Key staff

We all know how valuable our key staff are to our success, and this crisis has been heartwarming to see how many great people have stepped up to support their employers. Rewarding your people might come in many forms, whether that might be an equity stake (via share options or other share schemes), or bonus schemes to simply say thanks. There are many ways to look after your trusted team and we can help you create the most relevant solution.

New opportunities

We are aware of some owners who have decided enough is enough and would like to exit their businesses but perhaps a greater number who are ready to embrace the future and push on. If you are considering disposing of your business but aren’t sure which is the best way to do so, get in touch with our team to discuss.

We have no doubt that there will be challenges ahead but we envisage new income streams being possible. More people may choose to enjoy a ‘staycation’, spending time and money in Scotland and providing new opportunities for leisure businesses who can add to and diversify their existing portfolio.  If you are looking for guidance with an acquisition or sale of your business, speak to our specialist team.

Our EQ Leisure team are here to offer bespoke advice and support to help your business bounce back. For more information or to discuss your circumstances, contact our specialist team via leisure@eqaccountants.co.uk or contact one of our offices.