The so-called ‘casual dining crunch' saw 30 people a day lose their jobs as operators closed branches, entered administration or pursued Company Voluntary Agreements (CVAs), a study by the Centre for Retail Research has revealed.
Gourmet Burger Kitchen, Prezzo and Jamie's Italian were among the major operators to have agreed CVAs involving the closure of multiple sites, as a ‘perfect storm' of high rates, rents and market saturation, as well as other cost pressures, took their toll on the industry.
The Centre for Retail Research has said that a total of 10,413 jobs were lost across the casual dining sector in 2018.
Director professor Joshua Bamfield has warned that a further 10,950 jobs are expected to be lost across the casual dining sector in 2019, with independents being hard hit.
Bamfield explained: "Many of the large chains have already made cuts and, in 2019, we expect the smaller and independent restaurants to bear the weight of the losses."
Real estate advisor Atlus Group has emphasised the impact of business rates increases to rising costs and said the Chancellor's relief for businesses with a rateable value below £51,000, as revealed in the budget, will do little to help.
Alex Probyn, president of UK Expert Services at Altus Group, said: "There had been huge growth in the casual dining market with restaurant numbers up 16% overall since 2010.
"The race for space pushed up rents impacting on rateable values which came into effect in 2017. Extra tax for business rates coupled with rising food prices and staff costs through increases in both the national and minimum wages created a lethal cocktail as margins were squeezed."