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Restaurant chain bosses call for nine-month rent break

Bosses at Caffe Nero, Pret a Manger, Franco Manca, Gordon Ramsay Group, Dishoom, Wahaca and Tortilla have backed the plea.

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Burger King is among the restaurants backing the proposal (Jacob King/PA)

Burger King is among the restaurants backing the proposal (Jacob King/PA)

Burger King is among the restaurants backing the proposal (Jacob King/PA)

Bosses at Burger King, Nando’s and other leading restaurant chains have called on the Chancellor to postpone rent payment for the next nine months.

Leaders at the dining chains have backed calls for a rental holiday to support restaurants which face an extended period of closures in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

Bar owner and street-food venue operator Jonathan Downey, who has launched the #NationalTimeOut campaign, said two million hospitality jobs are at risk without increased support.

In a letter to the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, restaurant bosses said: “Fear of the virus and the long-term need for physical distancing will mean that most hospitality businesses will remain shut down after lockdown.

“Almost all have no immediate prospect of being profitable again and many will fail in the next few weeks and months.”

The plea was also backed by bosses at Caffe Nero, Pret a Manger, Franco Manca, Gordon Ramsay Group, Dishoom, Wahaca and Tortilla.

They have called for rent payment from the start of April to the end of 2020 to be postponed, with each corresponding lease to be extended by nine months so payments can be made at a later date.

Burger King chief executive Alistair Murdoch, who has backed the campaign, said the fast-food chain has not made rent payments for April after being put under financial pressure by the crisis.

He told the Today programme: “It looks very difficult for us to be saying that we’re actually going to be paying next month’s or even next quarter’s rent, because we have no sales.

“And I think that’s the same for a lot of people in the industry.”

A Government spokesman said: “We’ve taken action at unprecedented speed to support businesses, jobs and our economy through these challenging times.

“This includes targeted support for the hospitality sector with business rates holidays and cash grants of up to £25,000 for eligible firms.

“Pubs and restaurants can also benefit from our other business support measures, including the coronavirus job retention scheme, VAT deferrals and protection from eviction for commercial tenants affected by coronavirus.

“We would encourage any business that is struggling to find out more about the support available to them on gov.uk/business-support.”

PA