Wagamama owner The Restaurant Group slams current Covid tier system
Wagamama owner The Restaurant Group has warned that the current coronavirus tiering system in England will have a significant negative impact on the firm and the wider hospitality industry.
Shares in Restaurant Group, which also owns Frankie & Benny’s, dipped more than four per cent this morning after it announced that more than 60 per cent of its 390 UK branches were closed to dine-in customers.
The company said this morning that 103 sites are closed – compared to just 62 before the latest changes to the tier system – and 142 restaurants will provide takeaway and delivery services.
In total, 145 branches are open to dine-in customers, with just one restaurant currently under the most lenient Tier 1 restrictions.
The majority of the Restaurant Group sites are in Tier 3, which forces hospitality businesses to close except for takeaway and delivery.
“If UK tiering allocations were to remain that same as currently in place throughout the first quarter of 2021, this will have a significant adverse impact on the group and indeed the wider hospitality sector,” the company said in a statement this morning.
London entered Tier 3 this week, while large areas of the South East are set to enter the toughest restrictions this weekend.
Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Peterborough, the whole of Hertfordshire, Surrey – except Waverley – Hastings and Rother, Portsmouth, Gosport and Havant will also move up to Tier 3.
Meanwhile huge swathes of the North of England will remain under the tightest restrictions, meaning hospitality venues across most of England are limited to takeaway-only services.
However, the Restaurant Group said it was “encouraged” by the Covid-19 vaccine rollout, saying it is “well positioned to benefit from a sustained removal of restrictions given its previous strong trading performance following the first lockdown”.
“We therefore expect a strong recovery when there is a return to more normal levels of customer activity,” Restaurant Group said.
“The timing of that will depend primarily on government restrictions being eased”.