The country’s top restaurant groups saw losses skyrocket in a year, hitting £673m, as bosses have called for more cash to help ailing venues.
The top 100 groups saw losses increase 174 per cent in the year to the end of September 2021, according to an analysis of company accounts by accountancy firm UHY Hacker Young.
Businesses faced lockdown closures and uncertainty about Covid rules last year but have not experienced a “painless rebound in fortunes” thanks to pandemic debts, Peter Kubik, partner at UHY Hacker Young said.
Consumer confidence has also been hit in recent months after the advent of new Covid variant Omicron saw cases soar in the weeks leading up to Christmas.
Restaurant chains, including Prezzo, Byron Burgers and Carluccio’s, went into insolvency amid the pandemic while others, Frankie & Benny’s and Pizza Hut, shuttered sites and used CVAs to keep their firms afloat.
“Many restaurants are struggling to pass on increased food and wage costs to customers which is putting margins back under pressure. Omicron is just the latest set-back for an industry hit hard in the last two years,” Kubik added.
Venues are also anticipating a threat of decreased consumer spending after an increase in National Insurance this spring, Kubik said.
The warnings come as Sacha Lord, Parklife founder and night time economy adviser for Greater Manchester has dubbed the current level of government support “unforgivable.”
The Treasury announced cash grants of £6,000 for pubs and restaurants impacted by the latest set of Covid measures last year.
However, industry bosses have said the grants are simply a drop in the ocean and have called for upcoming tax rises to be delayed.
In the wake of Covid measures instructing office workers to work at home, the British Beer & Pub Association, estimated pubs sold 37m fewer pints over Christmas.
This fall in trade was to the tune of £297m in trade, with more than 3m pubs visits cancelled in one week in early December, following fears of the new variant.