Abandon Ship director steps down from bar chain amid staff unrest

Richard Davies announced he would step down immediately and would no longer be associated with the brand.

Abandon Ship director Richard Davies steps down from chain of bars following staff unrest Supplied
Abandon Ship: Director steps down amid unrest among staff.

The director of Abandon Ship has announced he has stepped down from the brand following months of unrest amongst bar staff.

Richard Davies made the announcement on social media platform Linkedin, saying he would “cease all involvement with the bars including creatively”.

It follows months of grievances amongst staff, who accused Abandon Ship of “systematic mistreatment” during the coronavirus pandemic. 

In January, workers from Abandon Ship bars in Glasgow and Dundee staged a protest after 70% of MacMerry300 and Abandon Ship Ltd employees issued a collective grievance, claiming the company subjected them to various forms of mistreatment.

Staff had claimed the company had failed to inform them of potential Covid close contacts and failed to close venues amid outbreaks, with employees being forced to keep working when sick or face disciplinary action.

They also alleged employees were not being paid sick and holiday pay and that there were ‘health code violations in kitchens across the company’ – with no hand soap or hot water provided.

The venues in question included the Abandon Ship Bars in Glasgow and Dundee, The Luchador in Glasgow, the Bird & Bear in Dundee, and Gracies in Broughty Ferry.

All the bars are owned by pub group MacMerry300, with some co-owned by clothing firm Abandon Ship.

Bosses later said they would address the issues raised and went on to announce an external investigator had been appointed to assess their handling of claims of sexual misconduct against some staff members.

In a social media post, Mr Davies wrote he would no longer be “swimming against the current” and that “change was necessary”.

“​​I will be stepping down as director of Abandon Ship Bars effective immediately and will cease all involvement with the bars including creatively,” he said.

“I appreciate this may be a shock, but this was not a decision that was made lightly. The last six months have been incredibly difficult for all involved, not just myself.

“I had a frank and honest conversation with my business partner and operator of the bars and unfortunately we both realised that we have different paths we wish to take and that change was necessary. The decision was made that I step away from the business immediately. I wish them all the luck with whatever the future holds for them and the venues.

“I love the Abandon Ship Bars. My heart is literally scrolled across the walls. The positive conversations and moments shared at those bars will live with me forever. They have helped me during some of the darkest times I’ve faced. 

“Unfortunately, swimming against the current has to come to an end but I hope to remain a friend and customer to the bars. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has been a part of these experiences as I have learned so much and developed so many important relationships.”

Mr Davies also added he would be stepping down from the clothing arm of the business Abandon Ship Apparel, would no longer create artwork or murals under the name Abandon Ship Art and would cease to use the moniker ‘Rich Abandon Ship’.

In a statement, Unite Hospitality Union said: “We are disappointed to see Mr Davies leave Abandon Ship as he was the only director to apologise for the way workers across Macmerry and AS had been treated.

“We hope that the owners of Macmerry and AS will work with Unite and its members to resolve the plethora of issues that remain across the chain, including in the ongoing independent review into sexual misconduct.”

Abandon Ship Bars have been contacted for comment.