Two Brighton restaurants face an uncertain future after the company that owns them announced dozens of closures today (Monday 29 June).
There are fears that Frankie and Benny’s and Coast to Coast, at Brighton Marina, are among 125 out of 210 outlets to be closed permanently by the Restaurant Group (TRG).
If the closures go ahead – and the sites have been shut since the covid-19 coronavirus lockdown began – about 30 jobs could go.
The fears were reignited today when the company’s creditors agreed a financial shake-up known as a company voluntary arrangement – or CVA.
But moves are understood to be under way to reopen Wagamama to diners at its premises on the corner of North Road and Kensington Street, Brighton.
The chain, which describes itself as offering Asian-inspired and Japanese cuisine, is also owned by the Restaurant Group but is run as a separate business.
The Propel Newsletter, which serves up online news for the hospitality trade, quoted the Restaurant Group’s chief executive Andy Hornby as saying: “These are exceptionally challenging times for our sector and TRG is extremely grateful for the support shown by our creditors.
“The approval of the CVA is a critical component in ensuring the future prospects for our leisure business.”
Propel suggested that if the two “at risk” sites remained open, the Restaurant Group would probably pay a reduced rent, quoting leisure sector expert Paul Ruddy, from the stockbroker Goodbody.
Like many food and drink outlets, the Restaurant Group has been keen to cut rents, and a local market expert suggested that rents were not cheap at the Marina. A unit near Frankie and Benny’s was advertised a few months before the lockdown for £75,000 a year.
The troubles at the Restaurant Group follow news of difficulties at a number of other food and drink firms.
Last month the Casual Dining Group put its business up for sale, including the Café Rouge, Bella Italia and Las Iguanas chains, all of which have branches in Brighton.
Other big names in trouble this year have included Prezzo, Carluccio’s and Wahaca, while the Chinese owner of Pizza Express is also looking at ways to tackle its £465 million debt mountain.
And the Reuters news agency reported earlier this month that the Cote Brasserie business, owned by buyout firm BC Partners, was “exploring a wave of site closures, with company voluntary arrangements possible”.
A local market expert suggested though that Cote’s Brighton branch, in Church Street, ought to be safe.