Frankie and Benny’s closures: why the Italian-American chain is permanently closing 125 branches
Frankie and Benny’s joins several other restaurants revealing plans to permanently close its branches due to coronavirus lockdown
The owner of Frankie & Benny's plans to permanently close 125 outlets, deemed "no longer viable to trade” due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Restaurant Group (TRG), who owns Frankie & Benny’s, is now entering into a company voluntary arrangement with its landlords to restructure its Leisure estate by closing 125 restaurants, as well as negotiating better rental rates from its landlords for those remaining.
TRG is one of the largest restaurant operators in Britain and also owns the popular restaurants Chiquito and Wagamama.
In February this year, TRG announced plans for the closure of up to 90 Frankie & Benny's and Chiquito branches by the end of 2021, with the intention of converting 12 of these sites into Wagamama outlets.
Closures due to Covid-19
TRG has described their current situation as being “at the sharp end of the Covid-19 pandemic” and TRG’s CEO, Andy Hornby, addressed the announcement stating:
“The issues facing our sector are well documented and we have already taken decisive action to improve our liquidity, reduce our cost base and downsize our operations. The proposed CVA will deliver an appropriately-sized estate for our Leisure business to ensure we are well positioned despite the very challenging market conditions facing the casual dining sector.
News of the closures first appeared when TRG bosses sent an email on Wednesday 3 June to staff in the group’s Leisure Division, stating that “a large number” of sites “will remain closed permanently".
The email blamed the ongoing pandemic for creating financial issues. It said: "The Covid-19 crisis has significantly impacted our ability to trade profitably, so we've taken the tough decision to close these restaurants now."
Due to the pandemic TRG had to place roughly 22,000 of its staff on the government’s furlough scheme, however many will now face redundancy.
Addressing the future of staff jobs, the email said: "Unfortunately, unless there are any suitable alternative roles identified, it's likely your role will be made redundant."
TRG has since confirmed that 125 sites will be closing for good after lockdown.
Which restaurants will be affected?
Frankie and Benny’s has restaurants in some of the UK’s biggest cities, such as London, Manchester, Leeds, Cardiff, Glasgow and Newcastle.
It is still currently not known which 125 sites in the chain’s 236-strong UK portfolio will face these closures.
However a spokesperson for The Restaurant Group said the closures “Will have impact on two to three thousand staff”.
He added that there may be a “statement in coming weeks” to confirm which sites will permanently close, and suggested that once lockdown ends, allowing the hospitality industry to reopen, the social channels for individual Frankie and Benny’s restaurants will clarify whether they are still open for business.
Other chain closures
Additionally, at the end of March TRG fell into administration, and permanently closed the majority of its Tex-Mex Chiquito restaurants at the onset of lockdown.
These closures were believed to have cost around 1,500 people their jobs. In addition to this, the group decided to close all of its London-based Food & Fuel pubs.
Currently its other restaurant chains, which include trg concessions, Bruning & Price, Coast to Coast, Firejacks, Joes Kitchen and Garfunkel’s are temporarily closed as per the government’s coronavirus lockdown measures.
Lockdown saw several other brands fall into administration earlier this year in March, such as Italian restaurant chain, Carluccio’s.
Carluccio’s had roughly 100 branches and over 2000 members of staff which were made redundant due to the pandemic.