Wagamama owner burns through £5.5m a month in Covid-19 lockdown

Kalyeena Makortoff
·2 min read
<span>Photograph: Victoria Jones/PA</span>
Photograph: Victoria Jones/PA

The Restaurant Group, which owns the Wagamama, Frankie & Benny’s and Garfunkel’s chains, has reported a jump in takeaway orders but warned it is burning through £5.5m a month in the latest Covid lockdown.

The group said it had secured another loan worth £500m that would help consolidate its debt and give it a larger financial cushion as it prepareed to reopen the rest of its sites to diners when lockdown lifts.

It said orders so far this year had been encouraging and that average delivery orders in the first three weeks of February were two and a half times higher than before the Covid pandemic, while takeaway sales were five times higher.

The growing appetite for takeaways has been a lifeline for the hospitality industry, after nationwide Covid restrictions blocked pubs and restaurants from serving customers on-site due to coronavirus risks.

The Restaurant Group has kept roughly half of its 400 of its sites running during the latest lockdown, primarily its Wagamama and Frankie & Benny’s brands. However, the group, which also operates the Brunning & Price pub chain, said it was burning through £5.5m worth of cash every four weeks due to current restrictions, and would continue losing cash at a similar rate until rules are lifted.

According to government guidance published last week, lockdown restrictions for the hospitality industry will begin to be eased no earlier than 12 April. Indoor dining will be possible no earlier than 17 May.

“With this strong operating platform in place, the group has good capability to deliver an accelerated reopening plan for dine-in trading, once the current restrictions for hospitality businesses end, with all viable sites being reopened within two weeks,” the Restaurant Group said. The company is scheduled to publish full-year results on 10 March.