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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Henry Saker-Clark

Almost 4,600 hospitality firms close in year as energy bills rocket – figures

PA Archive

More than 12 hospitality venues have shut each day in Britain over the past year amid the pressure of soaring energy costs, according to figures.

High inflation and the cost-of-living crisis have resulted in the closure of 4,593 licensed hospitality premises over the year to March, according to the latest hospitality market monitor from industry experts at CGA by NIQ and AlixPartners.

Nevertheless, the latest figures indicated a slight slowdown in closures in recent months amid stronger than expected consumer spending.

The new data showed that the number of hospitality venues has decreased by 4.3% since March 2022, representing 12.6 closures each day.

Restaurants suffered a particularly damaging year, with the number of licensed restaurants shrinking by 7.8% over the year.

The data comes a week after Italian dining chain Prezzo revealed plans to shut 46 restaurants as a result of soaring energy and food costs, putting 810 jobs at risk.

Meanwhile, there was a 2.5% decline in high street pubs over the year.

Karl Chessell, CGA by NIQ’s director for hospitality operators and food, said: “Each of the 4,593 closures over the last 12 months represents a sad loss of jobs and the permanent withdrawal of a community asset.”

The overall figures showed that 756 venues shut in the first three months of 2023, although this represented a slowdown in the recent rate of closures. It was the equivalent to 8.4 closures each day.

Mr Chessell added: “It is at least encouraging that losses have slowed in the first few months of the year — a welcome indicator that demand for hospitality remains strong.

“However, the recent cut in Government support on energy bills, alongside a hike in minimum wage rates and the ongoing tax burden, now leaves thousands more fragile venues at risk of closure.”

Graeme Smith, AlixPartners’ managing director, said: “Tellingly, this latest study underlines the growing divide between larger and smaller operators, reflecting the varied ability to withstand the continued headwinds the sector faces.

“The closure rate of independent businesses – (which are) the life blood and entrepreneurial driving force of the sector – continues to vastly outstrip the better-funded corporates and the branded operators.

“It highlights the need for Government support to be extended, especially on energy costs, if small (often family-owned) businesses are to survive.”

On Friday, trade bodies representing pubs and hospitality businesses called for urgent Government intervention over energy costs and contracts.

The British Beer & Pub Association, UKHospitality and British Institute of Innkeeping wrote to Amanda Solloway, minister for energy consumers and affordability, to call for further support to prevent “thousands of job losses”.

A Government spokesperson: “We have faced a period of exceptional economic challenges, caused by the pandemic and Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine.

“Through this period, the Government has acted swiftly to provide businesses with an unprecedented package of support which, as of April, has saved them £5.9 billion on energy costs – amounting to over £30 million a day and enabling some to only pay around half of predicted wholesale energy costs.

“Global energy prices have fallen significantly and are now at their lowest level since before Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine. The new level of government support reflects this welcome fall in prices, but we will continue to stand by businesses, as we have done over the winter.”

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