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Bella Italia on Tavistock Street
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A third of UK restaurants and pubs say they won’t survive lockdown

UK hospitality firms are struggling after two months of closure

Laura Richards

A third of restaurants and pubs in the UK predict they won’t reopen after lockdown. The CGA AlixPartners Market Recovery Monitor polled businesses across the country to find that 32 percent expected to shut for good due to financial losses caused by lockdown. Almost all of those business owners polled (96 percent) said they were expecting reopening to be phased, but many had a gloomy outlook as to whether they’d be able to do so. 

However, those responsible for the survey suggest that predicted closure figures for the industry vary widely between 10 and 30 percent, at present. 

Coming into lockdown, the survey – which is usually a quarterly report but will now be made monthly due to the dramatic changes facing the sector – found that independent restaurants and bars were the ones most at risk, with numbers of them falling by 2.6 percent. But the survey now suggests that medium-sized hospitality chains and casual dining operations could be the ones in jeopardy, especially those in large shopping centres and built-up urban areas. 

Graeme Smith, managing director at AlixPartners said: ‘It’s easier to foresee rural and suburban venues opening faster than those located in large city centres given there will be a significant period before offices reopen and footfall numbers return to prior levels, particularly where mass-transit is key for commuters.’ Casual Dining Group, which owns Bella Italia and Café Rouge this week reported it was headed into administration, while Mark Hix filed for administration on his London restaurants in April. 

The report suggests that venues which have pivoted to a ‘multi-channel’ approach (opening for takeaway and delivery during lockdown) were likely to fare better in the long run. 

‘How the overall hospitality market reopens will be dependent on a range of factors: government timetables, support and continuing restrictions; the financial strength of individual businesses; wider economic and business activity; the creativity of management teams; and the willingness of customers to return,’ said CGA group CEO, Phil Tate.

The report follows bar owner Ryan Chetiyawardana’s prediction that, from his conversations, 30 percent of hospitality venues would not be able to return, and the British Beer and Pub Association’s warnings that pubs would struggle to return in July, with 70 percent of venues finding it impossible to enforce the two-metre social-distancing rule. 

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