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How to succeed in casual dining

It’s been a bitter year for casual dining, with numerous high street brands forced to close their kitchens. Lucy Douglas takes a look at those still managing to succeed in a saturated market.

Six branches of Jamie’s Italian, Jamie Oliver’s high-street restaurant chain, were shuttered in January 2017. A year later, Oliver was forced to pursue a company voluntary agreement (CVA), which resulted in the closure of a further 12 sites, as well as inject a reported £13m of his own cash into the business.

So it was perhaps inevitable when, on 21 May, it emerged that Oliver’s restaurant empire – including Jamie’s Italian, Barbecoa and Fifteen – had called in administrators KPMG. In a leaked email to staff, Oliver blamed “the well-publicised struggles of the casual dining sector and decline of the UK high street, along with soaring business rates”.

Jamie’s wasn’t the only casualty of the casual dining crunch. The number of group restaurants in the UK declined 1.1% in the 12 months ending March 2019, with the equivalent of six net closures each month, according to a report by data analysts CGA and Alix Partners.

This is an extract from the Business & Management Magazine, Issue 277, September 2019.

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