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Saturday 17 August 2019

Jamie’s Italian latest in string of casual dining brands to suffer

Carluccio’s, Prezzo, Byron Burger and Gourmet Burger Kitchen have all closed outlets amid rising costs and heavy competition.

(Nick Ansell/PA)
(Nick Ansell/PA)

By Josie Clarke, Press Association Consumer Affairs Correspondent

Jamie’s Italian is the latest in a string of casual dining brands to suffer from a devastating couple of years for the sector.

The move to call in administrators to the celebrity chef’s restaurant empire follows chains such as Carluccio’s, Prezzo, Byron Burger and Gourmet Burger Kitchen closing outlets amid rising costs from higher wages and property taxes and heavy competition in the casual dining market.

The administration comes after sales at Jamie’s Italian dived by nearly 11% last year to £101 million as it closed 12 of its 37 restaurants and made about 600 staff redundant.

Shares in Wildwood and Dim T owner Tasty also tumbled earlier this year after it revealed widened annual losses and warned there would be no let-up in tough trading in 2019.

Tasty has closed eight sites since the start of 2018 and said it would keep its estate under review in 2019, putting new openings on hold as it focuses on overhauling its estate and boosting profits.

Last year 10,000 workers in Britain’s restaurants lost their jobs, amounting to 30 people a day, research for the Press Association revealed late last year.

Costs have increased for restaurants, with a rise in the minimum wage and a fall in the value of the pound since the referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union, driving food prices higher.

Competition has also increased with a raft of new chains backed by private equity firms opening across the UK.

Property taxes for restaurants paid through businesses rates in England and Wales rose 23% to £564.7 million for the 2018 financial year, a two-year hike of £106.64 million since rates were revalued in April 2017, according to property advisory group Altus.

Chancellor Philip Hammond cut business rates by a third for small retailers, including restaurants, in England which have a rateable value of less than £51,000 for two years from April. The next revaluation will take place in 2021.

However, Altus noted that help for restaurants operated by chains is likely to be limited due to a 200,000-euro (£180,866) three-year state aid cap from the EU.

The Centre for Retail Research has forecast that a further 10,950 jobs will be lost across the casual dining sector in 2019, with independent restaurants being hit the hardest.

PA Media

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