More than 22,000 restaurant jobs slashed since start of coronavirus pandemic

10 August 2020, 10:40

The pandemic has hit the restaurant industry hard
The pandemic has hit the restaurant industry hard. Picture: PA

By Maddie Goodfellow

More than 22,000 restaurant jobs have been lost so far this year after the coronavirus pandemic caused swathes of closures across the sector, according to new figures.

Job losses at UK restaurants so far in 2020 are already almost double the number of redundancies for the entirety of 2019, according to the Centre for Retail Research.

Figures compiled by the organisation have revealed that 22,039 roles were lost across large restaurant groups and independent operators from the start of the year to August 4.

It said this represents a 95.4 per cent increase on the 11,280 job losses reported during the whole of 2019.

Byron has made almost half of its workforce redundant
Byron has made almost half of its workforce redundant. Picture: PA

The figures also revealed that 1,467 restaurants and casual dining outlets have closed over this period, representing a 59.1 per cent increase on the total 922 sites which closed during 2019.

On Monday, Pizza Express became the latest operator to reveal major cuts, announcing plans to axe up to 1,100 jobs and permanently shut around 67 of its restaurants.

It came after rivals Carluccio's, Byron and Bella Italia owner Casual Dining Group all slipped into administration after the virus and subsequent lockdown exacerbated already tough conditions for casual dining firms.

Professor Joshua Bamfield, director of the centre, said: "The sector was already in severe difficulties before the pandemic as a result of rapid over-expansion fuelled by private equity acquisitions, with the enforced lockdown serving to starve operators of revenue bringing restaurateurs now to their knees."

The owners of Bella Italia has been forced to make redundancies
The owners of Bella Italia has been forced to make redundancies. Picture: PA

The Government had hoped to fend off job losses through its furlough scheme, with analysts now warning that redundancies could continue as the scheme is wound down in the coming months.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak also wiped out business rate payments for restaurants for the current financial year as part of financial support measures.

Restaurants have this year received a business rates holiday worth £622.13 million as a result, according to analysis by real estate adviser Altus Group.

Robert Hayton, head of business rates at Altus, said: "Urgent clarity is needed now on the level of that support moving forward as difficult decisions lay ahead."

However, Mr Sunak has resisted calls to extend the furlough scheme with targeted measures to stave off further job losses, saying the support cannot go on "indefinitely".

The Government also launched its £500 million Eat Out to Help Out programme to boost customer spending by subsidising a 50% discount on food and soft drinks up to a maximum of £10 per diner on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays this month.

Italian restaurant owner Carlo di Ciacca explains how Covid-19 will affect his business

Here is the full list of all major potential restaurant job losses announced since March 23:

The list of job losses only counts the biggest job cuts that have been announced to the public. Thousands more positions have likely been lost at smaller firms.

August 4 - Pizza Express - 1,100 at risk

July 31 - Byron - 651

July 17 - Azzurri Group (owns Zizzi and Ask Italian) - up to 1,200

July 9 - Burger King - 1,600 at risk

July 6 - Pret a Manger - 1,000 at risk

July 2 - Casual Dining Group (owns Bella Italia and Cafe Rouge) - 1,909

July 1 - SSP (owns Upper Crust) - 5,000 at risk

June 10 - The Restaurant Group (owns Frankie and Benny's) - 3,000

May 22 - Carluccio's - 1,000

March 27 - Chiquito - 1,500 at risk.