- The Government has launched a call for evidence as it prepares to conduct a 'fundamental review' of business rates. In papers published by the Treasury, the Government said it was 'keen to hear from businesses and business representative organisations, local authorities, ratings agents, others involved in the operation of the system and anyone interested in the business rates or wider tax system'. The objectives of the review include reducing the overall burden on businesses; improving the current business rates system; and considering more fundamental changes in the medium-to-long-term.
- The Azzurri Group, which owns Ask Italian, Coco di Mama and Zizzi, has announced a raft of restaurant closures. It comes after the business was acquired by TowerBrook Capital Partners through a pre-pack administration deal. Will Wright, Chris Pole and Steve Absolom from KPMG’s were appointed joint administrators to the group on 17 July 2020. Immediately following their appointment, the joint administrators sold Azzurri's brands and certain assets to TowerBrook Capital Partners, which is a long-term investor in the business. To support the group's recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, TowerBrook has committed over £70m to restructure the group's balance sheet and provide capacity for future growth. As a result of the sale, approximately 225 restaurants in Azzurri's 301-strong estate will continue to trade, safeguarding the jobs of c.5,000 employees.However, 75 other sites are set to close, resulting in roughly 1,200 redundancies.
- Elsewhere, James Sommerin's eponymous Michelin-starred restaurant in the Welsh coastal town of Penarth is has been forced to close after the landlord told the chef to vacate the premises; while Bristol's Michelin-starred Wilks restaurant has announced it will not reopen post lockdown. In a statement posted on the restaurant's website, owners James Wilkins and Christine Vayssade said: "Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, we closed the restaurant back in March 2020. Despite the announcement of the Government allowing us to reopen, we have decided not to do so."
- The Bocuse d’Or UK Academy has withdrawn Team UK from the European selection of the Bocuse d’Or citing the Coronavirus pandemic and the strain that it has placed on the wider UK hospitality industry. The Academy says that with the short and longerterm impact of COVID-19 more severe in the UK than in other competing countries, it did not see how Ian Musgrave, and his commis chef Adam Beaumont could ‘compete successfully’ due to a lack of both time and funding. The decision means that Team UK will be unable to compete in the Bocuse d’Or global final, which is due to be held in Lyon, France, in 2021.
- Stevie Parle and long-time designer friend Tom Dixon are returning to London’s Portobello Dock – once home to the Dock Kitchen restaurant - to open an outdoor restaurant and farm shop. Called JOY, the space is described as being ‘a temporary hub of food, flowers and happiness’ and ‘a positive moment in a difficult time’ and will be home to new outdoor restaurant FLORA, which will serve ‘hyper seasonal, beautifully simple summer food’ with daily changing blackboard menus written by Parle.
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