2018: a review of the year in hospitality

By Stefan Chomka contact

- Last updated on GMT

2018: a review of the year in hospitality

Related tags: Casual dining, Restaurant, Gordon ramsay, worlds50best, Jamie oliver, Fine dining, Michelin

2018 was the year of the CVA, the KFC chicken shortage and the passing of two of the most influential French chefs of recent times.

January

Where Jamie Oliver leads, other follow, and thus was the case this year when he leads the charge with a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA), which was announced at the start of the year. The restaurant group confirms it is to close a third of its UK sites as part of a strategic review of the business, shuttering 12 of its 37 Jamie’s Italian restaurants.

Creditors at Byron vote in favour of a CVA that could see the closure of up to 20 sites. It marks the start of a disappointing year for the burger chain, with its chief executive Simon Cope finally stepping down in December.    

Legendary French chef Paul Bocuse dies aged 91. Bocuse was a leading figure in the Nouvelle Cuisine movement and popularised a lighter version of classic French cooking.

Chef Jonny Lake announces he is leaving his role as executive chef of The Fat Duck Group after the 12 years at the restaurant group. Lake joined The Fat Duck in Bray as a chef de partie in 2005. He is currently looking to open his own restaurant.

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February

KFC is forced to closed more than half of its 900 UK restaurants after a switch is delivery partners meant it ran out of chicken. The chain subsequently relaunches its Colonel Sanders mascot in a bid to refresh its brand and put its disastrous start of the year behind it.

Prezzo becomes the latest Italian casual dining chain to show signs of trouble with the launch of a CVA that would lead to closures across its restaurant estate. The 300-strong group says it could shut up to a third of its sites as part of a proposed restructure.

The spotlight is thrown onto the problems of no shows in the industry after Scottish chef and restaurateur Mark Greenaway reveals his eponymous restaurant had 450 no shows or cancellations in just one month. The restaurant announces it will be taking debit or credit card details for all bookings going forwards. In August it announces its closure.

Filings by Gordon Ramsay Holdings show that Stuart Gillies is no longer a director at the company, with his role being terminated on 8 February this year.

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March

Figures reveal that 35 of the UK’s Top 100 restaurant groups are now loss-making. A combination of higher staff costs, rising business rates and falling consumer confidence is to blame, says the report’s creator accountancy group UHY Hacker Young.

Speculation mounts that Carluccio’s will become the latest Italian chain to enter into a CVA with reports claiming it is planning a restructure of its restaurant business. The speculation, which was denied by the company at the time, proved to be true, with Carluccio’s entering into a CVA in May, with 30 of its restaurants earmarked for closure.  

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April

Chef Dan Doherty steps away from London restaurant Duck & Waffle after almost six years at the helm. He later has acquired a pub in Marylebone with friend and business partner Andy Ward. Tom Cenci, Duck & Waffle’s executive chef, also leaves the restaurant, in December.
 
Clare Smyth is named the elit Vodka World’s Best Female Chef 2018 ahead of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants ceremony in June. The award is voted for by more than 1,000 industry experts from 26 regions of the world.

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May

Gourmet Burger Kitchen says it plans to close six restaurants and slash its openings pipeline for the year as it seeks to turn around falling sales. The group will also look to refresh 30 sites after it recorded a £7.8m operating loss.

It is revealed that Gordon Ramsay is to close his London restaurant Maze to relaunch the site as a new concept following reported pre-tax losses of £3.8m across the group.

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June

Thai restaurant Kiln is named the UK’s best restaurant in the 2018 Estrella Damm National Restaurant Awards.

US chef Anthony Bourdain dies aged 61. The chef, writer and broadcaster was in France working on a shoot for a TV series when he took his own life.

A huge fire closes the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in London’s Knightsbridge. The hotel remains closed for the rest of the year, with its restaurants Dinner by Heston Blumenthal and Bar Boulud finally reopening in December.

Sir Terence Conran’s London restaurant goes in to administration with the closure of three sites -  Lutyens on Fleet Street, Albion in Clerkenwell and Parabola at the Design Museum in Kensington.

Mark Poynton leaves his Cambridge restaurant Alimentum after 10 years at the stove, The chef announces plans to open a new restaurant in the city centre.

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July

The Gaucho restaurant group files for administration, putting 1,500 jobs at risk. The group’s 22-strong Cau restaurant chain closes with administrator Deloitte describing it as “significantly loss-making”.

The owners of Wagamama are reported to be considering a sale of the business as it continues to outperform the market. The noodle chain is subsequently bought by The Restaurant group later in the year for £559m.

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August

Mayfair’s Benares announces that former chef-patron Atul Kochhar is no longer employed at the restaurant. It follows the cancelling of his contract at a Dubai hotel restaurant the previous month for posting a tweet claiming that Muslims have “terrorised” Hindus.

French chef Joël Robuchon dies aged 73, after a battle with cancer. Throughout his career he was awarded 32 Michelin stars across 13 countries, the most of any chef in the world.

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September

Martin Williams returns to the Gaucho fold four and a half years after leaving the steakhouse group. His appointment comes as Gaucho CEO Oliver Meakin, who joined the company at the start of the year, steps down.

Tom Kerridge comes to the capital with the opening of the highly-anticipated Kerridge’s Bar & Grill at The Corinthia hotel in Mayfair.

Heckfield Place, ‘the UK’s most delayed hotel’, finally opens after six years and a revolving door of chefs. The Hampshire country house hotel was supposed to be open in time for the 2012 London Olympics.

Pret a Manger comes under fire for its allergen labelling following the death of a customer after buying a sandwich at one its outlets in Heathrow Airport in 2016.

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October

Living Ventures puts its Manchester House restaurant into administration. The following month its former head chef Aiden Byrne makes a return to the restaurant following a buyout, with it reopening in December.

Core by Clare Smyth, Moor Hall and Kitchen Table at Bubbledogs are awarded two Michelin stars in the Michelin Guide for Great Britain and Ireland. There are 21 new one-star restaurants in the new guide, including six in the capital. Marcus Warering’s eponymous restaurant at The Berkeley Hotel loses its second Michelin star, as does Le Champignon Sauvage in Cheltenham.

Patisserie Holdings finds itself in trouble following the discovery of “significant, and potentially fraudulent, accounting irregularities” that had led to a £20m accounting ‘black hole’. Chris Marsh resigns as finance director at the bakery chain and chairman Luke Johnson announces a bail out the group with a £20m loan.

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November

Andrew Fairlie announces he is to step back from the kitchen at two-Michelin-starred restaurant at Gleneagles due to suffering from a terminal brain tumour. The 54 year-old chef hands over the reins to head chef Stevie McLaughlin. Fairlie was diagnosed with cancer in 2005.

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December

Peter Boizot, the founder of the PizzaExpress restaurant chain, dies aged 89. Boizot founded PizzaExpress in 1965, opening its first site on Soho’s Wardour Street.

The Belmond hotel group, which owns two-Michelin-starred Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons in Oxford, is sold to French luxury goods giant Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton for more than £2bn. The transaction is expected to be completed in the first half of 2019.

Fraiche, Merseyside’s only Michelin-starred restaurant, closes with plans to relocate. Chef-patron Marc Wilkinson, who ran the restaurant since 2004, says he wants to take the name and concept with him to a new location.

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