Sunday 18 March 2018

Corrigan: Brexit to hurt Dublin dining, 'perfect storm' hitting London

Richard Corrigan: business confidence plummeting in London Photo: Will Oliver
Richard Corrigan: business confidence plummeting in London Photo: Will Oliver

Alan O'Keeffe

London's top chef Richard Corrigan believes Brexit will affect dining out in Dublin and other European cities, while restaurants in London are suffering "the perfect storm".

The Irishman said business continued to be "robust" in his three private dining rooms at Corrigans in Mayfair, but the confidence of customers in the business and banking community had fallen sharply.

"Businesses that bunkered down since the vote are not going to be in restaurants doing deals," said the Irishman (52), whose Mayfair restaurant has won awards as London's restaurant of the year.

"I've done well in recessions before but this is different. Private dining will do well but in the business community, all of central London is under pressure. Our rents have massively increased this year, so it is the perfect storm for restaurants," he told the Irish Independent.

"The restaurant does very well from European bankers who come to us in London when they arrive from Paris, Brussels and elsewhere."

Mr Corrigan said corporate restaurant business was showing "weakness" since the Brexit vote but, contrary to one report, it had not resulted in cancellations at his Mayfair restaurant.

"Politics has played out so badly. Confidence is very important for business and confidence here in London is now at an all-time low.

"It's like everyone was marched up to the top of a hill and they discovered there was a cliff on the other side.

"There's very little government going on at the moment. We'll trade well and I'm very glad we don't have big debts. Business will take a hit."

Besides restaurants in London suffering, Mr Corrigan said restaurants in Dublin and around Europe would eventually be hit by Brexit.

He said the City of London subsidised eating in the rest of London. When the City of London got nervous, the rest of London "shakes", he said.

Mr Corrigan owns his Mayfair restaurant business and several other top restaurants.

He had a very good May and a very good June, but July had started "rather meekly".

As a farmer's son, he remained aware of what happens in the marketplace.

Mr Corrigan said he expected a 15pc rise in the cost of French wine due to the plunge in sterling and had moved quickly to finalise deals on wine.

When he saw the British pound dropping in value, he telephoned his Mayfair restaurant with instructions: "Buy the Bordeaux, buy the Bordeaux."

Born in Dublin, he was raised in Ballivor, Co Meath. During his career to date, he has won a number of Michelin star ratings.

Corrigans in Mayfair won the London Restaurant of the Year Award, as well as the AA London Restaurant of the Year.

The restaurant also entered the list of the top five restaurants in Britain.

Mr Corrigan has won the Great British Menu award three times, has a busy career cooking on television and has also published three books.

Irish Independent

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