Independent London restaurant closures are at 28-year high following four years of equally record-breaking opening rates.
In the latest figures compiled by Harden’s 117 closures were logged in the city – the highest figure in the guide’s history.
Some 167 openings were also recorded, lower than the last three years but still the fourth highest figure of the last 28 years.
Overall it found the churn – the ratio of restaurants opening to those closing – was 1.4:1. The ratio has only been lower on the side of openings once – in 2003 when it stood at 1.2:1.
The data, compiled for the 2019 edition of the guide, focuses on independent restaurants and does not include any chains with more than three sites in the capital.
Guide co-founder Peter Harden said: “It used to be the case that good restaurants as a rule did not close. But the last year has seen losses at the top end such as Marianne, landmarks such as the Gay Hussar and highly rated start-ups like Killer Tomato, which should have been a success story, but which came and went almost as quickly as it began.
“The level of competition within the London restaurant market is unprecedented and is creating business conditions even more challenging than elsewhere in the UK.
“In 2003, the previous peak for closures, it was different: the hit to the market came from a slump in demand due to the second Gulf War, SARS, and the lowest hotel occupancy rates of recent decades. This time, the problem is purely and simply a case of over-supply: too many restaurants chasing a level of demand that, although it continues to rise, is doing so slowly.”