Bar group loses 'hundreds of thousands' of pounds over continued rail strikes

06 February 2023 by
Bar group loses 'hundreds of thousands' of pounds over continued rail strikes

A hospitality operator has lost "hundreds of thousands" of pounds in revenue due to ongoing rail strikes.

The latest round of strikes were held on 1 and 3 February, following a five-day walk-out in the first week of January.

Jamie Hazeel, co-founder and director of the London bar group Little Door and Co told The Caterer: "We strongly believe that not enough attention is being given to the impact that the continued strikes are having on small businesses like ours.

"The bill – quantified for us in terms of lost revenue – is now stretching well into the hundreds of thousands. Not only are businesses like ours getting viciously stung in very challenging times – the overall impact on the economic health of our cities is enormous."

Kamran Dehdashti, Hazeel's co-founder, said: "These ongoing strikes are leading to cancellations across all four of our venues, with people feeling less confident in committing to plans where they, and their loved ones, would have to travel to."

Dehdashti added he was "devastated" at the loss of larger group bookings for birthdays and private parties, which he said were crucial to the business.

Michael Kill, chief executive of the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA), said the late-night sector was predicted to lose over £100m in revenue because of the strikes last week alone.

"We cannot emphasize enough that this industry will not survive further austerity, or crises," said Kill.

Steve Humpherson, former head of hospitality and operations for the Edwardian group and founder of hospitality consultancy Cense, said strikes were particularly damaging to the late night economy, as they made it harder for people to get home.

However, he suggested that consumers would continue to go out on the "shoulder nights" surrounding a rail strike day.

Humpherson, who advises for clients such as 6 Hamilton Place and Les Ambassadeurs in London's Mayfair, said that when a strike is announced, operators should "contact all the bookings in the system" to check if guests still plan to attend.

"If they can't make the date, move the booking to the following night, or ask customers whereabouts they may live," he said.

Casual dining brands with multiple venues could seek out a closer location for that guest to retain the revenue in the wider business, Humperson said.

He added that independent operators should try to "give back to your neighbourhood" by offering complimentary drinks or sides to local walk-in customers who could become regulars and boost business when transport links were poor.

There are currently no further strike dates announced for RMT or Aslef members.

RMT members on Network Rail are currently being consulted on the latest pay offer from the employer.

Image: Alexey Fedorenko / Shutterstock

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