The letter, which has been published in today’s Evening Standard and entitled Restaurants need Theresa May’s helping hand, also urges the Prime Minister to give assurances that their business will be able to retain foreign EU workers after Brexit, writes BigHospitality's sister publication, MCA.
The 23 signatories, who include Luke Johnson, chairman of Patisserie Valerie; David Campbell, chief executive of Wagamama; Steve Richards, chief executive of Casual Dining Group; Andy McCue, chief executive of The Restaurant Group and Richard Hodgson, chief executive of PizzaExpress, also highlight that their central London sites have seen rents soar and been impacted by an increase in business rates.
John Vincent, co-founder and chief executive of Leon (pictured, with co-founder and co-signatory Henry Dimbleby), who also signed the letter, told the Evening Standard: “London’s restaurant chains are being squeezed as never before and we really need some respite, particularly from the huge hike in business rates.
“The Leon in The Strand alone will see its rates go up by £24,000 next year. That’s why we’re joining together with other restaurants to make this call for action. The Government needs to listen or restaurants will close and thousands of people will lose their livelihoods.”
The letter: Restaurants need Theresa May’s helping hand
We know Theresa May appreciates the contribution of the hospitality industry but we are not sure the Government understands the commercial pressures we face. We pay millions of pounds in VAT, business rates, national insurance and other taxes. In other countries, taxes are cut for the hospitality sector.
The weak pound has led to food costs increasing by about five per cent. Those of us with central London sites have seen rents soar and an increase of 3040 per cent in business rates. Our industry is also penalised because restaurants and pubs have to charge 20 per cent VAT. The Government also wants a new apprenticeship tax and increase the National Living Wage to £7.50 next year and towards £9 by 2020.
We back this — we want to pay our people well. However, labour costs represent around 30 per cent of our revenue and we need balance elsewhere in the tax regime to do that. We want to tell the PM of the anxiety over our sector if we lose significant numbers of our teams, many of whom come from Europe.
We want her to consider a reduction in VAT, extending transitional relief on business rates or reducing national insurance contributions.
John Vincent, CEO and co-founder of LEON
Henry Dimbleby, co-founder, London Union
Jonathan Downey, co-founder, London Union
Mark Selby and Thomasina Miers, co-founders, Wahaca
Luke Johnson, chairman, Patisserie Holdings
Steve Richards, CEO, Casual Dining Group
Robin Rowland, CEO, Yo! Sushi
Gerry Ford, CEO, Caffè Nero
David Campbell, CEO of Wagamama
Jens Hofma, CEO, Pizza Hut Restaurants
Simon Kossoff, co-founder, Carluccios
Richard Hodgson, CEO, Pizza Express
Chaker Hanna, chief executive, Levant Group
Andy McCue, CEO, The Restaurant Group PLC
Jeremy Roberts, CEO, Living Ventures Group
James Horler, CEO, 3Sixty Restaurants Ltd
Jason Myers, CEO, Busaba Eathai
Chris Hill, CEO, The New World Trading Company
Nick Collins, CEO, Loungers
Alex Reilley, co-founder, Loungers
Ajith Jayawickrema, founder and director, Turtle Bay Restaurants
Richard Bigg, managing director, Camino