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O’Neills pubs have been closed for months during lockdowns.

O’Neills pubs have been closed for months during lockdowns. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

The pub and restaurant group Mitchells & Butlers has temporarily suspended payments to its staff pension fund and is pressing ahead with £350m emergency fundraising to see it through the Covid crisis.

The All Bar One owner, which also runs pub chains including O’Neill’s and restaurant brands such as Harvester, usually pays £4.2m a month into its pension fund. It has agreed to delay payments for at least three months, with plans to restart contributions in April.

Sales were down 70% between September and January, a period in which Covid rules were tightened after a brief respite over the summer.

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