Greene King furloughs over 36,000 employees as pandemic shuts pubs

FILE PHOTO: A Green King lorry makes a delivery at The Old Bell pub in Harpenden as the number of coronavirus cases grow around the world, in Harpenden, Britain, March 17, 2020. REUTERS/Peter Cziborra

(Reuters) - British pub operator Greene King has furloughed more than 36,000 employees, owner CK Asset Holdings 1113.HK said on Friday, as government measures to halt the spread of the coronavirus has led to the closure of all its pubs in the UK.

The Hong Kong property developer said it had not intended to make material changes to Greene King’s employees when it bought the company, but has now put over 95% of the pub chain’s staff on furlough due to the coronavirus crisis.

CK Asset, founded by Hong Kong’s richest man Li Ka-Shing, bought Greene King for 4.6 billion pounds ($5.69 billion) last year.

The changes are expected to be temporary and Greene King intends to end the furlough when appropriate, CK Asset said.

Reporting by Tanishaa Nadkar in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva