Seven food chains closing branches including Burger King and Bella Italia – and 15,000 jobs are at risk

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Restaurants chains around the country are struggling due to the impact of coronavirus with seven chains closing branches and 15,000 jobs at risk.

Only this week, Burger King and Pret a Manager became the latest casualties warning of site closures and job cuts.

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It comes as the chancellor this week slashed VAT from 20 per cent to 5 per cent for businesses in the hospitality and tourism sectors in a bid to help companies bounce back.

Mr Sunak also revealed in his mini-Budget that restaurant and pub meals will be slashed in half from Monday to Wednesday during August.

The chancellor says these combined measures will create a £4billion saving for the hospitality and tourism sectors that will benefit over 150,000 businesses, as well as helping to protect 2.4 million jobs.

These industries have struggled during lockdown with pubs, restaurants and cafes only allowed to reopen on July 4 in England.

In Northern Ireland, these establishments were allowed to open from July 3, while in Scotland, beer gardens could reopen from July 6 and indoor restaurants can go back to business from July 15.

Pubs and restaurants in Wales are due to reopen from July 13.

But despite these businesses being allowed to stay open for takeaway orders throughout lockdown many have struggled with demand ebbing away.

We’ve rounded-up the major restaurant chains that have announced closures and job losses since March 2020.

Burger King boss Alasdair Murdoch has this week told the BBC’s Coronavirus Newscast podcast that the pandemic could force the chain to permanently close 10 per cent of its stores, putting 1,600 jobs at risk.

He said: “We don’t want to lose any [jobs]. We try very hard not to, but one’s got to assume somewhere between 5 per cent and 10 per cent of the restaurants might not be able to survive.

“It’s not just us – I think this applies to everyone out there in our industry.”

More than 1,900 jobs are set to be cut at Belgo, Bella Italia, Cafe Rouge and Las Iguanas.

The restaurants’ owner, the Casual Dining Group, said this month that it would shutter 91 of its 250 sites after calling in administrators in May.

Carluccio’s fell into administration in March, after being on the edge of collapse when it was forced to close branches due to the coronavirus crisis.

The Italian food chain, which had 71 branches and around 1,800 employees, appointed FRP Advisory as its administrator.

FRP Advisory ended up selling 31 Carluccio’s restaurants to Boparan Restaurant Group (BRG), which also owns Ed’s Easy Diner, in a move that saved more than 800 jobs.

But around 40 restaurants closed for good, which left 1,019 staff without jobs.

Chiquito’s owner, The Restaurant Group, called in administrators at the end of March when it confirmed 61 of its 80 restaurants would not open again.

It is believed around 1,500 jobs were lost as a result.

In June, The Restaurant Group then said it was planning to close a further 125 sites – putting 3,000 jobs at risk.

The closures are expected across its Frankie & Benny’s, Chiquito’s, Coast to Coast, Garfunkel’s, Filling Station, Firejacks, and Joe’s Kitchen brands – although exact sites have yet to be confirmed.

This would leave the Group with 160 outlets, of which around 85 are still at risk if rent reductions and revised lease terms can’t be agreed on.  

But the Group’s 150 airport concessions and pub operations, as well as its around 150 Wagamama branches are unaffected.

Le Pain Quotidien went into administration in June.

Administrators managed to secure a rescue sale to BrunchCo but 11 of Le Pain Quotidien’s restaurants closed for good, with 200 jobs lost.

Sandwich chain Pret a Manger announced this week that it’s set to permanently close 30 of its shops, putting at least 1,000 jobs at risk.

It started a consultation process with employees this week with a final decision on job cuts to be made after this.

Pret has 410 shops in the UK, 339 of which have now reopened for takeaway and delivery – customers can now also dine-in at some of its larger sites.

Upper Crust and Caffe Ritazza owner, SSP Group revealed this month that up to 5,000 jobs are at risk as it expects only 20 per cent of its outlets to have reopened by this autumn.

It’s been particularly badly hit by the coronavirus crisis as many of its branches are in train stations, airports and motorway service stations.

The Group employs 9,000 people in the UK.

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