Dishoom MD: Christmas train strikes could cost us 3,500 bookings

28 September 2023 by
Dishoom MD: Christmas train strikes could cost us 3,500 bookings

The managing director of Dishoom has said he is fearful the group could lose 3,500 bookings over Christmas if there are further train strikes during the festive period.

Brian Trollip said the team were "really worried" about the possibility customers would be unable to travel to their six restaurants in London and regional sites in Edinburgh, Manchester, and Birmingham and Brighton.

"I think [train strikes are] going to potentially nail the hospitality sector very, very badly over the Christmas period," he told the Casual Dining Show.

"Nothing seems to be resolved, there are a couple [of strikes] going on now, but we just feel like that's going to ramp up again over the Christmas period.

"I think we lost 3,500 bookings over the Christmas period last year and we're anticipating something similar happening this year when the strikes are almost inevitably announced."

Hospitality businesses were hit hard by industrial action in the run-up to Christmas last year, with some operators telling The Caterer they had lost tens of thousands of pounds a day in trade.

The ongoing dispute between rail unions and train operating companies is yet to be resolved. Train drivers are set to strike on 30 September and 4 October while London Underground workers will walk out on 4 October and 6 October.

Trollip said it was "a bit worrying" that there seemed to be no imminent end to the dispute.

"I do think we need to get everybody sat around a table and having a conversation which doesn't seem to be happening at the moment and that's quite a scary thing because it looks like this is going to get kicked out into the long grass until inflation comes back down," he added.

Trollip said 2023 had been a more positive year for the hospitality sector after the "sheer hell" of the pandemic period, with pricing and staffing issues starting to ease.

"It does feel like a better place. I'm not sure there was much joy in hospitality last year if I'm really honest, and we're starting to feel that again and find the fun in it, which is really why we want to do this."

He added: "We're starting to get to a place where we know what normal looks like and that's a lot easier to deal with. The strikes [are] an outlier for me that I'm really concerned about."

Dishoom was founded by Shamil and Kavi Thakrar in London's Covent Garden in 2010 and operates restaurants inspired by the old Irani cafés of Bombay.

Its first spin-off brand, all-day bar the Permit Room, will open in Brighton on 2 November.

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