Record closures hit London Restaurants

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The highest-ever number of restaurants closed in London in the last 12 months. That’s the conclusion of the 28th edition of Harden’s London Restaurants and its equivalent apps, published on 8th November, which record 117 closures: the highest since the guide commenced publication in 1991 (the previous high was 113 in calendar 2003).

There were 167 restaurant openings: the fourth-highest year on record (the record of 200 took place two years ago).East London still where the action is… but South is catching up!

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Net openings (that is Openings minus Closures) of 50 (167-117) were down by 50% on the previous year’s figure of 109 (193-84). Viewed on a graph of net openings, a five-year peak has passed, with net openings back in the range (of 40-75) that encompassed most previous years from the mid-1990s onwards.

A further sign of pressure in the independent market comes from the ratio of openings to closings (i.e. “churn”) which dropped sharply to 1.4:1. Only one previous year has exceded this rate: 2003 when, at 1.2:1, it was a time when for nearly every restaurant that opened another one closed.

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The guide’s statistics are skewed to independent restaurants, and – although the guide does award ratings to restaurant groups – chains with more than three branches are excluded from the openings and closures statistics it publishes. If the effects of well-publicised closures in large chains such as Jamie’s Italian and Byron were included it would make the picture presented by the statistics even more dramatic.

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