UK restaurant figures fall for first time in eight years

The number of restaurants in the UK has fallen for the first time in eight years, according to new figures

 

Earlier this month Italian chain Carluccio’s announced it could close more than 30 venues.

“It’s easy to say this is a crisis in casual dining,” Peter Martin at analytical firm CGA told the Guardian. “This is a crisis happening for everyone.”

Around two restaurants per week have closed over the past year to March, according to CGA’s market report, which predicts the number of sites across the UK will continue to fall throughout 2018.

“People are still going out to eat and drink but in the last four years we’ve seen a net 4,000 new restaurants open.”

The total turnover of all businesses in the hospitality industry reached £98 billion in 2017, up from £92 billion in 2016 and £86 billion in 2015, according to figures released by the ONS last year.

Last week, Texture Restaurant Group sold the Fetter Lane branch of its wine-focused restaurant chain 28°-50° to Cliffords Restaurant Limited following rumours it could close all three of its sites.

Soho institution The Gay Hussar, a favourite of Labour leaders, became the latest casualty of the London dining scene on the same day, after a five-year battle to save the troubled venue from closure.

Seasoned restaurateur Sir Terence Conran was also forced to close three of his London sites.

CGA said that the closures are the result of a combination of Brexit’s weakening of the pound, and increased competition after a surge of private equity-backed restaurants have opened over the past decade.

Earlier this month Italian chain Carluccio’s warned it could close more than 30 venues after signing a Company Voluntary Agreement (CVA) in a bid to restructure its business and stay afloat while fending off debts.

Martin said: “A lot of chains have gone into areas they shouldn’t have.”

“Brexit-driven costs have meant 11% food inflation at kitchen doors,” he added. “The cost pressures are not going away. Prices have gone up and are staying up.”

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