London restaurant recovery lags behind other major cities, says D&D

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Restaurants in central London are recovering much more slowly from the pandemic downturn than those in major provincial cities, a leading dining group said today.

D&D London, which owns a range of historic sites in the capital such as Quaglino’s and Le Pont de la Tour, said its restaurants in Manchester and Leeds were trading well above pre-Covid levels.

In central London, however, the climb back to 2019 normality has been continually thwarted by “bumps in the road” such as transport strikes and the heat wave. The winter Omicron outbreak had also severely damaged the recovery.

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The company said the Omicron restrictions have reduced £4 million in revenue, while the railway and Undergruond strikes cost a further £1 million last month. Another round of strikes this month could cost a similar amount in lost trade, it warned.

It said: “Locations in Central London showing continued sensitivity to external factors, but restaurants in Leeds and Manchester are resolutely resilient, for example in a 2-day heatwave in London revenues fell 30%, revenues from Manchester and Leeds by 10%.”

Group sales over the 15 months from April 2021, when the second long lockdown ended, and June 2022, were £163 million, or 90% of pore Covid levels, while profits were £17 million, or 122 percent of pre -covid .

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The company said it faces an average inflation rate of 10 percent, but this has been offset by higher spending.

Chairman and CEO Des Gunewardena, said: “Six months ago, Omicron and the rapid return of workers to central London and New York were our main concerns.

Our biggest challenges now are cost inflation and the continued need for more staff as revenues bounce back. Initiatives to attract and retain the best people and equip them with tools to better manage their restaurants dominate our agenda.

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“On the positive side, our customers are spending well and I am confident they will continue to do so throughout the summer. However, our central London revenues have been affected by transport strikes which will continue to negatively impact our operations until the dispute is resolved.

“Looking ahead, we have the opportunity to significantly scale the business, both in the UK and abroad. And we will. But we will manage the growth rate in the context of what remains an uncertain economic backdrop.”

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