Monday 19 August 2019 1:04 am

Food for thought: Restaurant numbers drop as Chinese, Indian and Italian cuisines struggle

Chinese, Indian and Italian cuisine might be the staple of many Saturday night takeaways, but new evidence suggests that the beloved British favourites are bearing the brunt of a slowdown in the casual dining sector.

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An average of 18 restaurants have shut per week in the 12 months to June, with smaller independent Asian and Italian outlets recording the most net closures out of any in the sector.

Yet while the supply of licensed restaurant premises dropped 3.4 per cent over the year, according to today’s findings from CGA and AlixPartners, there are bright spots in the dining sector – including a boom in vegetarian outlets and more demand for Middle Eastern, Turkish and Caribbean foods.

Troubles in the restaurant sector have claimed a number of high profile groups in recent months, such as Jamie’s Italian, the group belonging to TV chef Jamie Oliver which collapsed into administration in May.

Higher costs, a slowdown in consumer spending and fierce competition has weighed on physical retailers in the dining sector, many of which have struggled to stay open amid rising costs and weaker sales.

“These are turbulent times for the restaurant, pub and bar sectors. As our new research shows, conditions are especially tough for independents, leased pubs and Italian restaurant operators,” said Karl Chessell, business unit director for food and retail at CGA.

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He added: “But while licensed sites are clearly in overall decline, things may not be quite as bleak as recent media commentary has suggested….The emergence of dynamic young restaurant brands, the soaring popularity of certain cuisines and the revival of managed pubs in many parts of the country all provide grounds for optimism, and operators that can respond nimbly to shifting consumer tastes have a lot to look forward to.”

Across the licensed sector as a whole, Britain’s number of premises dropped 2.4 per cent in the 12 months to June to just under 117,000, with the rate of closures of pubs and bars lower than the market average at two per cent.