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London hospitality firms count the cost of the Tube strike

16 June 2009 by
London hospitality firms count the cost of the Tube strike

Hospitality operators in London have been counting the cost of last week's strike by Tube workers which paralysed the capital's public transport system.

The action by the RMT union, which closed down large parts of the Tube network for 48 hours from 7pm on Tuesday (9 June), had a severe knock-on effect, with commuters crowding on to overland trains and buses or attempting to drive to work.

Richard, Earl of Bradford, owner of Porters English Restaurant in Covent Garden, accused the RMT of trying to destroy London businesses when many were already poised on the edge of a financial precipice.

"In Covent Garden we rely on around 50% of our customers reaching there by using the Tube network," he said. "The frustration is enormous and we are powerless to do anything about it."

John Nugent, chief executive of Green and Fortune at King's Place in Kings Cross, said the strike was a mixed bag for the business, with a number of restaurant cancellations but a significant increase in the number of office workers drinking in the Rotunda bar. "Overall a real inconvenience and not what the industry needs right now," he added.

The strike also hit the attendance at the World Cup qualifier between England and Andorra on the Wednesday, with 57,000 fans turning up at Wembley Stadium - well below the 90,000 capacity.

Simon Dobson, managing director of Wembley caterer Delaware North Companies, said the strike had had a real impact with concession trade down on the day. However on-site restaurants were busier, with around 200 additional covers, as fans arrived earlier, helping to cushion the drop-off in overall trade.

"Our 2,000 staff were also terrific," said Dobson. "Wembley and the Football Association put in place a fleet of buses to pick up staff at points around the capital. However, had we not worked together it could have been a disaster."

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By Chris Druce

E-mail your comments to Chris Druce here.

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