Carluccio’s chief executive Mark Jones said yesterday that the casual dining chain was unlikely to be the only restaurant group to seek a temporary ‘rent holiday’ from landlords to cope with the coronavirus.
The chain is currently in talks with landlords to negotiate a three-month break on rent payments as it seeks to partially offset a reduction in business from the virus.
In an interview with the Financial Times, Mr Jones cited reports that the owners of other Italian food chains Franco Manca and Zizzi could also look for rent relief.
“I don’t know of any company that is not talking to their landlords,” he said.
Carluccio’s trades from more than 70 sites and Mr Jones suggest the situation would require “much broader intervention” from the government, possibly by following the example of other markets where the state has underwritten loans, supported salaries or offered rent relief.
Footfall in some London sites has plummeted 40% since last week, while in Newcastle it has fallen 30%.
He told the paper that by making its rent relief request public, it would encourage the sector to work together to overcome the financial challenges.
The possibility of the government shutting down the restaurant sector, as has happened in Ireland and parts of mainland Europe, is something that concerns him. “My single biggest fear is being forced to close,” he told the paper.