UK Restaurants Face Significant Losses

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UK Restaurants Face Significant Losses

UK restaurants face significant losses as reported by the national accounting firm UHY Hacker Young. It reveals that a record 64% of the top 100 restaurant businesses in the United Kingdom are losing money daily. The percentage increased from 52% between 2018 and 2021 to 62% during the pandemic (2020-2021), as rising costs pushed the figure even higher. Energy costs, supply chain issues, labour shortages, and landlord debts have exacerbated the problem, forcing many businesses into the red.


UK Restaurant Insolvencies Skyrocket As Economies Struggle

In Q4 2022, there were 504 restaurant insolvencies, an 11% rise from the previous quarter, according to Harpers. The three preceding quarters also had high insolvency rates, with 396, 453, and 504 insolvencies, marking a record low for the UK restaurant industry.


The cause is clear: UK restaurants have been dealing with the highest inflation since 1981, a sharp drop in consumer spending, and strikes affecting pre-Christmas bookings.


Many restaurants have cut their hours due to rising food, energy, and labour costs.

“Struggling restaurant companies often count on a strong Christmas period to keep their heads above water,” said Mazars Partner Rebecca Dacre.


But, December trading was weaker than usual, convincing many to close. Consumer spending may also decline as many households leave fixed-rate mortgages and sign up for more expensive deals, which means restaurants will continue to struggle as consumers cut back.


UK Restaurants Face Significant Losses


Restaurant Companies Suffering Significant Losses

The restaurant and hospitality industry is anticipated to face even greater challenges. According to research conducted by UHY Hacker Young, 1,406 restaurants in the United Kingdom filed for bankruptcy in the preceding year, representing a 70% increase year-over-year in the number of bars and restaurants in “critical financial distress.”


Despite the expectation that many groups will return to profitability, many chains have closed unprofitable branches.


Peter Kubik, a partner at UHY Hacker Young, believes that the post-pandemic situation for many restaurants has been “a case of ‘out of the frying pan, into the fire'” because the expected post-pandemic uptick in consumer spending has been thwarted by spiralling inflation.


He stated, “The restaurant industry faced challenges even before the pandemic”. Many groups incurred substantial debt to fund aggressive expansion campaigns, which resulted in many trading at a loss under “normal” pre-Covid conditions.


The increase in insolvencies over the past year can be attributed to worker shortages, the rising cost of living, and consumers’ reduced spending.


The number of restaurants declaring bankruptcy has increased by more than 60 percent, with 1,406 restaurants in the United Kingdom closing their doors between May 2016 and May 2017.


During the height of the pandemic, several prominent restaurant chains were forced to close dozens of locations due to heavy financial losses sustained during repeated lockdowns and other Covid restrictions.


How the British Restaurant Industry Fights the Post-Epidemic Blues?

The restaurant industry in the United Kingdom is in a dire state, but many businesses are fighting back.


The following are examples of what restaurant companies are doing to ensure their survival:

Provision of Delivery and Takeout Services

Numerous restaurants have responded to the pandemic by introducing delivery and takeout services. This has allowed them to continue generating revenue and maintain satisfied customers while adhering to pandemic regulations.

Change Your Business Model

Some restaurants have seized the opportunity presented by the pandemic to transition to a new business model, such as meal kit delivery or grocery sales. They hope to maintain revenue streams and attract new customer bases by diversifying their product lines.

Outdoor Dining

Many restaurants have invested in outdoor seating areas due to restrictions on indoor dining during Corvid. This has enabled them to continue serving customers in a safe, socially-removed manner while taking advantage when the weather becomes warmer.

Staff Retention

A labour shortage is one of the greatest challenges facing the restaurant industry. To combat this, several restaurants are providing incentives to retain employees, such as higher wages and flexible scheduling.

Adoption of Technology

Numerous restaurants have adopted technology to enhance their operations and maintain customer engagement. Some restaurants, for instance, have implemented contactless ordering and payment systems, while others have launched mobile ordering applications.


Restaurant Companies Suffering Significant Losses


What do industry professionals recommend as a remedy for these issues?

Several solutions are being offered by industry experts to help restaurant companies in the United Kingdom cope with significant losses, such as:

Online Ordering:

With more people ordering food online, restaurants can improve their digital capabilities to attract more customers by enhancing online ordering and delivery. This includes providing delivery and pickup options and investing in user-friendly online ordering platforms.

Reduce Operating Costs

To reduce operating costs, restaurants can reduce staff hours, renegotiate lease agreements, and locate more cost-effective suppliers. Some may also contemplate streamlining their menus to reduce food waste and streamline operations.

Offering Limited Edition Menus:

Offering new menu items and limited-time promotions restaurants can entice customers to dine in or order take-out by introducing new menu items and limited-time promotions. This can help attract new customers and generate excitement.

Seek Financial Assistance:

Restaurants seeking financial assistance can investigate various options, including government grants, loans, and crowdfunding. During the pandemic, numerous local governments and organisations have developed programmes to assist struggling businesses.

Diversifying revenue streams:

Restaurants can diversify their revenue streams by selling merchandise or providing catering services, for example. Some may also consider expanding their product line to include groceries and meal kits.

Overall, the key to overcoming significant losses is for restaurants to be adaptable, innovative, and flexible in the face of changing conditions.


The future of the restaurant industry

Forecasting the future is always difficult, but restaurant industry experts are keeping an eye on certain trends. The continued rise of technology in the restaurant industry, such as the use of automation, artificial intelligence, and robotics, is one of the most significant trends.


One noticeable trend is the increasing desire for environmentally friendly and sustainable methods. Furthermore, due to the impact of COVID-19, the restaurant sector has had to adjust and come up with new ideas that could shape its future. At the moment, it is uncertain how these trends and other influences will unfold in the future.


What percentage of UK restaurants fail?

The percentage of UK restaurants that fail can vary over time due to various factors like economic conditions, competition, and external events. According to a report by UHY Hacker Young, a national accounting firm, a record 64% of the top 100 restaurant businesses in the UK were losing money daily. Additionally, the report indicated that there has been an increase in the number of restaurant insolvencies, reflecting a challenging environment for the industry.


How many restaurants fail in the UK?

The number of restaurant failures in the UK can fluctuate based on economic circumstances and other factors. The report from UHY Hacker Young mentioned that there were 504 restaurant insolvencies in the fourth quarter of 2022, marking an 11% rise from the previous quarter. The numbers for the preceding quarters were also relatively high.


he report highlighted that 1,406 restaurants in the UK filed for bankruptcy in the preceding year, indicating a substantial increase year-over-year in the number of bars and restaurants in financial distress.


What is the failure rate of restaurants?

The failure rate of restaurants in the UK can vary based on multiple factors. The challenges faced by the industry, include rising costs, labour shortages, and reduced consumer spending. The increased insolvency rates during and after the pandemic suggest a significant level of financial stress for many restaurants.


How has Brexit affected the restaurant industry?

Brexit, the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union, has had implications for various industries, including restaurants. While the exact impact can vary, several potential effects include changes in the supply chain, labour availability due to changes in immigration policies, and shifts in consumer behaviour.


Brexit could lead to supply chain disruptions and increased costs for imported goods, potentially affecting the profitability and operations of restaurants. The extent of Brexit’s influence on the restaurant industry depends on a range of factors and remains a topic of ongoing analysis and discussion.


The future of the restaurant industry



the UK restaurant industry is grappling with an unprecedented set of challenges that have been further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The data from UHY Hacker Young’s report paints a concerning picture, with a significant percentage of top restaurant businesses experiencing financial losses. The escalating insolvency rates, coupled with factors like rising costs, labor shortages, and reduced consumer spending, reflect the industry’s struggle to regain its footing.


However, amidst these trials, the industry has demonstrated remarkable resilience and adaptability. Restaurants have embraced innovative strategies such as delivery and takeout services, business model transformations, and technology integration to navigate the changing landscape. Additionally, seeking financial assistance, diversifying revenue streams, and prioritizing staff retention are pivotal steps toward recovery.


As the restaurant industry continues to evolve, it faces uncertainties tied to trends such as the integration of technology and the pursuit of sustainable practices. Brexit’s impact remains a lingering concern, as changes in supply chains and labor availability may continue to influence the industry’s trajectory.


While the path forward may be challenging, the industry’s ability to innovate, engage customers, and navigate complexities will play a pivotal role in determining its future. By embracing change, optimizing operations, and staying attuned to consumer preferences, UK restaurants can position themselves for eventual recovery and resurgence.


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Frequently Asked Questions & Answers


What percentage of UK restaurants fail?


The failure rate of restaurants in the UK can vary year to year, but statistics suggest that around 20-25% of UK restaurants might fail within their first year of operation. However, it’s important to note that this figure can change due to various factors including economic conditions, location, and business strategies.


How many restaurants fail in the UK?


The exact number of restaurants that fail in the UK can fluctuate annually. On average, several hundred to over a thousand restaurants may close down each year. These closures can be attributed to factors like competition, financial challenges, changing consumer preferences, and market dynamics.


What is the failure rate of the restaurant industry?


The failure rate in the restaurant industry varies globally, but generally, it’s estimated that around 60-80% of restaurants may fail within the first five years of operation. This high failure rate can be attributed to a combination of factors, including fierce competition, high operational costs, turnover rates, and the challenges of maintaining consistent quality and service.


How has Brexit affected the restaurant industry?


Brexit has had several impacts on the UK restaurant industry. One major effect is the potential disruption of supply chains due to changes in trade regulations and customs procedures. Importing ingredients and goods from the EU has become more complex, leading to potential delays and increased costs.


Additionally, Brexit’s economic uncertainties have influenced consumer spending habits, leading to shifts in dining-out behavior. Restaurants have had to adapt to these changes by sourcing locally, adjusting menus, and finding innovative ways to attract customers.