‘Large number’ of Frankie & Benny’s 236 UK restaurants will remain shut after lockdown, leaked email due to be sent to staff reveals
- Italian food chain Frankie & Benny are reportedly set for a series of full closures
- The restaurants have been hit badly financially by the coronavirus pandemic
- Email told staff many sites are ‘no longer viable to trade and will remain closed permanently’
- The company currently has around 22,000 staff on furlough during the crisis
- Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19
A ‘large number’ of Frankie & Benny’s outlets will remain closed after lockdown, it has been reported.
According to an email seen by the BBC, the owner of dining chain The Restaurant Group (TRG) is set to tell staff on Wednesday that many sites are ‘no longer viable to trade and will remain closed permanently’.
The email adds: ‘The Covid-19 crisis has significantly impacted our ability to trade profitably, so we’ve taken the tough decision to close these restaurants now.’
Italian food chain Frankie & Benny are reportedly set for a series of full closures after being hit hard financially by the coronavirus pandemic
Although it is not clear how many sites will be affected, the BBC says the message was sent to managers in the group’s Leisure Division, which consists of more than 200 Frankie & Benny’s restaurants.
A total of 236 Frankie & Benny’s eateries currently exist around the UK, dotted around in a variety of locations.
The BBC says TRG declined to comment on the report.
In March, TRG was forced to shut a majority of its Chiquito Mexican-style outlets as well as its Food & Fuel chain of pubs in London after falling into administration.
The Restaurant Group was forced to shut the majority of Chiquito eateries in March due to financial worries and falling into administration
It is estimated that around 1,500 jobs were lost as a result of this action.
The company, which also owns Wagamama and Garfunkel’s, is one of the largest restaurant operators in Britain.
It currently has around 22,000 staff on furlough.
Imminent Frankie & Benny’s closures were already announced by TRG in February, with the company saying it planned to shut up to 90 restaurant sites by the end of next year.
The news comes amid increasingly uncertain times for the UK’s high-streets, with many big companies weighing up their battered financial accounts during the pandemic and decided which outlet to axe for good.
In similar circumstances John Lewis bosses are deciding which of their 50 stores will re-open after the coronavirus lockdown eases, with inside sources claiming it is ‘highly unlikely’ all of them will survive.
The retail giant was forced to close all 35 of its department stores and 15 smaller John Lewis At Home shops when Britain went into lockdown in March.
It saw 400 staff made redundant and another 14,000 furloughed as a direct result.
But now it has been revealed retail bosses have begun considering which stores are not financially viable – even when social distancing measures ease up.
John Lewis has battled rising rent and business rates, announcing ‘dire’ results in January, with sales 23 per cent down on the previous year.
Other High Street chains have already gone bust amid the pandemic, including Debenhams, Laura Ashley and Carluccio’s.
With lockdown measures gradually easing across the country, customers will soon enter a world of one-way systems and quarantined footwear when non-essential stores in Britain are allowed to reopen next month – but retail experts still hold fears consumers may be too scared to return.
Thousands of shops, department stores and shopping centres can open from June 15, while outdoor markets and car showrooms will be allowed to open from next Monday as coronavirus lockdown restrictions are eased.
But things will look very different in the revamped stores, with checkouts behind screens, toilets and changing rooms closed, a limit on the number of customers allowed inside the store at any time and no seating available.
Stores will also feature markings outside to assist with socially-distanced queuing and encourage customers to shop alone where possible, according to union-backed guidance issued by the British Retail Consortium.
The restaurant and food industry is also set to adhere to very strict ruling, including measured spacing between tables, partitions separating customers and a specified flow of direction to minimise social contact.