UK bar chain Revolution considers closing bars due to Covid curfew

The UK bar chain Revolution is considering closing some of its venues as a result of the new restrictions on hospitality businesses enforced across England from Thursday.

The group, which runs 73 bars across the UK, said it was “evaluating the potential impact of the latest developments” on its business, after the UK government ruled that bars, restaurants and pubs would have to close at 10pm for the next six months to curb the spread of coronavirus.

One person close to the business said Revolution had hired the advisory firm AlixPartners to help it explore options.

In a statement on Friday, the bar chain said these included the potential closure of a number of its bars through a restructuring process known as a company voluntary arrangement, commonly used across the hospitality and retail sectors to shut underperforming sites.

On Wednesday, Revolution told the Financial Times that although it was “too early” to tell what the impact of the curfew would be on its business, it had already seen an increase in earlier bookings as a result of the regulations being announced.

“The sector has been serving millions of people since the beginning of July and there was no spike in cases until the government opened schools and encouraged everyone to go back to work. Forcing people to leave the safe environment of a hospitality venue early or to socialise in unregulated household environments will increase infection rates, not decrease them,” the bar group said.

It added that as a result of the curfew and other measures introduced from Thursday, including compulsory table service in licensed venues, it had delayed plans to reopen one of its City of London sites.

The group has already agreed to surrender the lease on its central Liverpool site from the end of September and said this month that sales in the two months to the end of August were 72.5 per cent of last year’s levels.

Operators across the sector have expressed outrage at the latest restrictions, claiming that they unfairly target the hospitality sector.

Jonathan Downey, co-founder of London Union, which runs several dining and events venues across the capital, called the new curfew policy “reckless and catastrophic”.

Over the past seven weeks sales at his Dinerama venue in east London had been 42 per cent lower than the same period in 2019. They fell a further 26 per cent on Thursday night as a result of the curfew, Mr Downey said, adding that he planned to shut his Soho site Milk & Honey on Sunday after what he expected to be “two more nights of drastically reduced trading”.

Revolution, which raised £15m through a share placing in June, said: “The board believes that the long-term nature and potential impact of the latest operating restrictions mean that it must consider all necessary options to ensure that its business remains viable.”


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