Belfast Telegraph

140 jobs lost as iconic Bewley's Grafton Street Cafe temporarily shuts for facelift

Bewley's Grafton Street Cafe is to close its doors "temporarily" until Autumn with the loss of 140 jobs.

In a statement issued this morning, Bewley's said the move was necessary to secure the future of the renowned cafe which is "currently significantly loss making".

The company say their losses stand at €1.2m a year.

A substantial renovation project of the premises will take place during the closure, the operators said.

Such a move was necessary as the "operation needs to be simplified to create future sustainability in view of continuing rent burden", a statement for the company said.

Some 140 staff members will be made redundant.

When it reopens in the Autumn, some 70 staff will be able to retain their jobs.

Bewley's said they are committed to the future of its Grafton Street cafe, but said it is necessary to restructure and simplify the operation to return it to a "sustainable financial position".

The extensive renovation and refurbishment project will cost €1 million.

The cafe last underwent renovation in 2005.

According to the company, the cafe has huge operating costs and an annual rent of €1.5m "which is a legacy of the unsustainable Irish property bubble".

In 2012, a third party arbitrator established the rent should be at €728,000, but the higher rent remains, the company said.

The company said they have tried many different routes in bringing down the rent, pointing to legal court proceedings in the Supreme Court which ruled against Bewley's last July.

Even if the rent reduction was in place, with annual losses of €1.2m a year, the position is not sustainable, the company said.

The cafe has multiple floors in operation at present.

The company believes it will need to shut for approximately six months to complete the renovation project.

When it reopens, it will be with a "simplified focus" on the ground floor and basement.

"Bewley’s regrets that this proposed closure would as a result require proposals for a redundancy programme for the 140 staff at Bewley’s Grafton Street," the statement said.

"Bewley’s will enter into consultation with staff to explore ways in which some of the proposed redundancies might be avoided and will support them as much as possible during this process."

“It is deeply regrettable to Bewley’s that the proposed period of closure is likely to result in redundancies for our dedicated Café staff.   We are also sorry to disrupt our very loyal customers during this period," Bewley's Chief Executive John Cahill said.

“We are planning this programme to sustain Bewley’s Café’s continuing presence on Grafton Street, and to create related jobs in the future.

"The Café must be brought to a sustainable financial position where it can achieve viability at a market rent.

“We are confident that this proposed development will ensure the sustainability of Bewley’s Grafton Street and the provision of future employment by the Café on its reopening later in 2015.”

Source Irish Independent

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