Pandemic costs D&D London £2.5m a month, owner warns

The group’s owner has urged government for greater support than is currently being provided

Des Gunewardena, the owner of restaurant group D&D London, has written to the government calling for greater support ahead of today’s (11 January) parliamentary debate on the hospitality industry.

In a letter addressed to chancellor Rishi Sunak, Gunewardena revealed that Covid-19 is costing D&D London £2.5m per month of closure.

The restaurateur highlighted that the chancellor’s announced support package of £9,000 per venue alongside existing grants would provide the group with £150,000 a month, therefore covering just 10% of the firm’s losses.

The owner of multiple restaurant brands that include Bluebird, Quaglino’s, and German Gymnasium called the current lockdown support “wholly inadequate”.

He added: “All our restaurants are currently compulsorily closed due to Covid. They are significant businesses many of which each employ over 100 staff and occupy properties with rateable values over £1m.

“The cost of operating our businesses while closed is c..£1.5m per month compared with average pre-Covid profits of £1m per month. Covid has therefore cost our business £2.5m per month of closure.”

The letter then added a list of considerations that Gunewardena has urged the government to look at, including raising the property grant to 50%, reinstating the job retention bonus of £1,000 per member of staff, extending the VAT and business rates relief, and including tips and service earnings in restaurant staff furlough pay.

Gunewardena added that the demands are “not a speculative wish list of financial asks”, but instead a necessary package that is “desperately needed” by the hospitality industry.

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