Gauselmann UK’s Sascha Blodau has spelt out the real cost of the government’s U-turn in keeping AGCs closed until 4 July. Described as a disastrous decision for the industry, the extension to lockdown the sector is not a good message for international investors.
Gauselmann UK, has expressed its disappointment and profound concern at the government’s 11th hour U-turn on the opening of AGCs, stating the cost to the company of shuttering its venues amounted to in excess of £1million/week.
Sascha Blodau, General Manager, Gauselmann UK said: “This has been nothing short of a disaster for the entire AGC sector here in the UK which employs over 10,000 people. As a significant international investor in the British high street, to say we are deeply disappointed is an understatement. For us that the rules have changed, without consultation, 72-hours before we are due to open is incomprehensible. We really expected more from the government if the business community is to help build the economic bounce-back the Prime Minister has referred to and get the country moving post Covid-19.”
We really expected more from the government if the business community is to help build the economic bounce-back… and get the country moving post Covid-19…
He added: “I have to stress that to keep our staff and customers safe we have abided by every guideline the government has issued. We examined every requirement, every standard and we made it our business to exceed them. We have invested in additional training, hygiene protocols, PPE, signage, machine layouts, point of sale – every element has been researched, processed, rehearsed and fine-tuned. Our staff, who have been outstanding since day one, are desperate to get back to work and they have been denied for reasons no one can adequately explain, particularly when set against the fact that Licensed Betting Offices, which fell under the same government category as AGCs, have been permitted to return!”
To explore further the human costs of the government’s decision, Coinslot spoke with Wanda Kidd, Area Manager responsible for 12 Merkur Cashino AGCs covering the East Midlands: “My team is still reeling from the decision” she stated. “To be away from work for such a long time, deal with all of your childcare issues with schools not being properly open and then to find that you are not actually returning has been yet another disruption and problem to deal with. We’ve got great venues, great work colleagues and great customers – everyone just wants to get back to normal and to enjoy their work once again.”
Sascha Blodau concluded: “The UK is a very important market for Gauselmann and one which we are proud to support. Our focus is on returning to work at the earliest possible opportunity, providing jobs for our staff and providing socially responsible entertainment in welcoming and safe environments. We have worked really hard to create a robust plan and we are ready to open the doors as soon as we receive the go ahead from government which I hope will be extremely soon.”