Future of Work

The owner of High Street restaurant chains Café Rouge and Bella Italia has gone into administration. Ninety-one Casual Dining Group outlets will close immediately, and 1,900 of the firm’s 6,000 staff will lose their jobs.

Administrators Alix Partners are seeking offers for all, or parts, of the remaining business. UK firms have announced thousands of job cuts this week as the impact of the pandemic on the economy continues.

Casual Dining Group, which also owns the Las Iguanas chain, applied in May to appoint administrators at the High Court as it found it increasingly hard to pay its rents.

On Thursday, the firm said it had already received “multiple offers” for the business and hoped to pursue these.

“We are acutely aware of our duty to all employees and recognise that this is an incredibly difficult time for them,” chief executive James Spragg said.

“Working alongside the administrators, we will do everything we can to support them through this process, with a view to preserving as much employment as we are able to.”

The restaurants that are closing are mainly located in England, with some in Scotland and Wales. 159 of the group’s 250 outlets will remain open.

Restaurants in the UK were struggling even before the pandemic, but their revenues collapsed when the UK went into lockdown in March.

Restrictions will be eased from Saturday, but demand is likely to remain depressed for some time and some chains have already acknowledged the severity of the impact.

This week Byron Burger said it planned to bring in administrators, putting 1,200 jobs at risk. Upper Crust and Caffe Ritazza owner SSP Group said it would cut up to 5,000 roles.

The government’s furlough scheme – which is paying 80% of the wages of nine million workers – will start to be pared back from August, and so many firms are cutting jobs now to reduce costs.

Thousands of job losses were announced in other sectors too this week, including:

WH Smith, Bensons for Beds, Wrights Pies, tableware-maker Steelite International, the Adelphi Hotel in Liverpool and Norwich Theatre Royal have also announced plans to reduce staff.

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