Whitbread’s Bella Pasta chain is closing seven restaurants but plans to open five in places it believes will be more profitable.
The seven restaurants in Bradford, Eastbourne, Enfield, Basildon, Preston, Southport and Wimbledon will shut simultaneously on 20 February shortly after the boost to business expected on Valentine’s Day.
Stephen Evans, managing director of BrightReasons, the Whitbread division that runs Bella Pasta, said that the Wimbledon restaurant is to close because the rent was considered too high, while the others were all making too little money.
There are various reasons for this, he said. Bella Pasta’s core target market is young women, but in Eastbourne there is a high percentage of older people. In Bradford the restaurant is in an ethnic neighbourhood, where pasta restaurants do not generally do well, and in Preston the site is not in the main restaurant area of the town.
The seven restaurants employ 200 staff and Evans said that 85% of them had been found jobs in other Whitbread businesses. Of the remaining 30 staff, some did not want to move to another area, and others took early retirement.
The five openings will be in Crawley, West Sussex; Newcastle-upon-Tyne; Leeds; Milton Keynes; and Cheshire Oaks, near Ellesmere Port.