Liverpool’s MOJO Bar has announced its closure after 15 years in the city.

The announcement comes at a difficult time for the UK hospitality industry, with the bar and nightclub sector being particularly impacted.

The bar sector has failed to return to pre-pandemic levels of nominal sales since the summer of 2022.

According to AlixPartners CGA Hospitality Market Monitor, 22,859 licensed premises across the country have shut down since December 2020.

In 2023 alone, 6,180 licensed premises have closed and the trend looks set to continue, with Rekom, the largest nightclub operator in the UK, collapsing into administration in February – leading to almost 500 job cuts.

Bars have failed to return to 2019 nominal sales levels, according to AlixPartners CGA Hospitality Market Monitor (CGA Hospitality Business Tracker, 2023).

Martin Greenhow, Managing Director of Voodoo Doll Ltd., which operates 6 MOJO Bars across North West England, said that the company had been “battered and bruised by the storm that was the interventions foisted upon us by the government in response to Covid”.

“During the last two years we have seen supply costs rocket through supply-side inflation, debt interest costs explode, energy costs triple or quadruple, and, as of this April, labour costs escalate by over 20%”.

In August 2023, following the lifting of lockdown restrictions, MOJO relocated from its original site on Back Berry Street to the Liverpool ONE shopping complex.

The upgrade to a larger, more central venue with longer opening hours was intended to return the bar to its pre-lockdown numbers, however the venture proved ineffective.

Mr Greenhow cited the cost-of-living crisis, rampant inflation, spiralling interest rates, high energy costs and frozen tax thresholds dragging people into higher rates of tax as factors contributing to the bar’s decline.

He added that changes in social behaviour since lockdown had also had a significant impact.

“Easy to observe is the hybrid working brigade, colloquially known as those exhibiting the ‘TWaT effect’, that is, in the office Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

“Nobody in the office on a Friday, for example, means no after-work drinks”.

Mr Greenhow said that the experience had left him angry and disaffected with the government’s handling of the ongoing crisis.

“I am angry for the countless thousands who have lost jobs and for those who have lost their businesses.

I am angry over the debt left for the Great British public to pick up in the form of unpaid Bounce Back Loans and CBILs, debts forcing businesses to cling to survival through no fault of their own”.

“MOJO had fifteen glorious years in Liverpool.

We sincerely hope to return to Liverpool in the future, but for now we must concentrate on our 6 remaining sites – all of which are riding the storm of the current economic climate.

I hope we’d be welcomed back”.

Liverpool’s MOJO Bar, at 51 Hanover Street, has closed after 15 years (Photo: Jay Donnelly).


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