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Industry gives out mixed signals on railway strike

While many London hoteliers continue to benefit from industrial action on the railways, one Covent Garden restaurateur claims the strikes are badly affecting trade.

The Earl of Bradford, who owns Porters, has repeatedly seen takings “rocket downwards” on strike days to about half the amount taken on days when rail services are operating normally.

The lowest point came two weeks ago, when takings on the day of the strike slumped to £1,700, about 40% of the next day’s turnover.

“Covent Garden was just beginning to regain its old buzz,” he explained. “Suddenly it has become a ghost town again, not only on Wednesdays but also on Tuesday evenings as customers leave early to make sure they get home.”

And the situation would become “dire” as unions extended industrial action. “Three days a week is going to slaughter us,” he lamented.

The positive side to the dispute has been the increased number of bednights sold by some of London’s hotels in midweek.

Speaking at the British Hospitality Association’s annual luncheon two weeks ago, Rocco Forte commented wryly: “The rail strike causes a great problem to London hoteliers – we don’t know how much of our marketing budget to allocate to the rail unions.”

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