More than 800 chain restaurants, bars and cafes close for good as Covid-19 lockdowns bite sector

Jim Armitage
·2 min read
<p>Even successful restaurants have suffered in the crisis</p>

Even successful restaurants have suffered in the crisis

More than 800 chain restaurants, bars and coffee shops have closed since the start of the Covid pandemic, research compiled for the Evening Standard has found.

Covid has wrought havoc on cashflows of leisure sector operators as they have been repeatedly forced to close or only open under tough restrictions to ensure social distancing.

Data compiled for the Evening Standard showed that when administrations and Company Voluntary Arrangements are included, chains with 6231 outlets have been affected.

That compares with 593 closed during the two previous years, which included the one-off corporate shakeups at Patisserie Valerie and The Restaurant Group accounting for nearly 150 closures.

Many more independent and family-run sites have closed during the period.

CVAs are used when a group has to renegotiate debts with its creditors and generally involves deals to cut its rents and close outlets.

The government has offered grants to companies forced to shut down but they say this is inadequate and have called for business rates and VAT relief to be extended beyond April while they get back on their feet.

Many private equity investors in the sector have been wiped out by the pandemic, including entrepreneurial management teams with stakes in their businesses.

However, there are hopes that the vaccines will spark a resurgence in going out due to pent up demand during lockdowns.

Casual dining chains have been particularly badly hit, with major closures including 185 Frankie & Bennys and Chiquitos, 91 Big Tables, 75 in the Zizzi and Ask chains and 73 Pizza Expresses.

Takeaway cafe closures include 36 Pret A Mangers, 19 at Abokado, 14 at Tossed and 12 at Chilango.

Pubs and bars have been the least affected, but Greene King and M&B have closed 45 between them.

Numbers are based on publicly available figures and may not be conclusive.

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