James Halliwell

James is the Editor of MCA.

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+44 (0)1293 846631
  • closed shop sign

    Editorial: Quick decisions, please.


    Like the Spice Girls, the industry needs two to become one. The two metre vs one metre debate is just one of the many challenges jostling away in the sector, but it has emerged as a central issue for the financial viability of many operators. As they have explicitly spelled out, a reduction from two to one could literally be the difference between reopening or staying shut. It’s not the only factor slowly extinguishing this vibrant sector, but the debate flared up again yesterday

  • Frankie & Benny's

    Frankie & Benny’s to close a “large number” of sites


    The BBC has reported that a “large number” of Frankie & Benny’s restaurants are to close. It said an email to staff sent by the Restaurant Group says many sites are “no longer viable to trade and will remain closed permanently. The Covid-19 crisis has significantly impacted our ability to trade profitably, so we’ve taken the tough decision to close these restaurants now,” the email said.

  • restaurant cafe table

    Hospitality urged to take on insurance firms


    The Financial Conduct Authority is set to file a High Court action to clarify the interpretation of business interruption policy wording.

  • Tronc guidance

    Rishi Sunak: Employers will contribute 10% to the JRS from September and 20% in October


    Rishi Sunak will ask all businesses to contribute to the JRS from 1 August by covering NI and pension contributions, rising to 10% of wages in September and 20% of wages in October. The JRS will then be closed down at the end of October. He also announced some flexibility to the scheme so employees could start to return part-time from July. He made no specific provision for the hospitality industry, which largely remains closed before it is allowed to reopen on 4 July.

  • restaurant table

    Majority of operators have no plans for temperature checks for customers - MCA Poll


    Just one in five operators are planning to introduce temperature checks when customers arrive at their pub or restaurant, according to the latest weekly Hospitality Leaders Poll by MCA Insight/HIM.

  • Staff wages

    Excluding tronc from the JRS could hit wages by 40%


    Hospitality staff on furlough could see their wages hit by up to 40% as the JRS doesn’t factor in tronc, according to a new survey.

  • restaurant meal wine

    Editorial - The PM has offered a glimpse of positivity


    If you watched a collection of MPs question the PM on his handling of the coronavirus crisis yesterday, you may have heard a snippet relating to hospitality that will have cheered you up. “We are really trying to go as fast as we can,” said Boris Johnson. “It’s very difficult to bring [back] hospitality with social distancing but I’m much more optimistic than I was, and we may be able to do things faster than I thought.”

  • Revolutions Bar Group

    Revolution secures funding for the future


    Revolution has extended its debt facilities, which it says will provide it with “sufficient liquidity for the foreseeable future”. Revolution, which operates 74 bars under the Revolution and Revolución de Cuba brands, said NatWest had increased its Revolving Credit Facility from £21.0m to £30.0m until 31 August 2020, at which point it will step down to £24.0m. NatWest has also waived all financial covenant tests at March 2020 and June 2020.

  • Wetherspoons

    Wetherspoon announces comprehensive safety measures


    JD Wetherspoon has announced a raft of safety measures to safeguard employees and customers when it reopens its pubs, which is currently forecast for the 4th of July. Costing an intitial £11m, the 875-strong pub chain said it will employ two full time cleaners for every pub who will constantly clean surfaces and touch points like door handles, allergen information screens, card payment machines and hand rails, throughout the day.

  • Zizzi interior

    Azzurri CEO Steve Holmes: Things are changing all the time


    Do you remember what is was like to go to a restaurant and order a plate of spaghetti? I miss it hugely, and I’m just a hungry customer. So how does Azzurri CEO Steve Holmes, who runs 295 restaurants, feel about seeing his entire estate shut down? “It’s desperately sad, because we’ve made really strong progress over the last four years,” he says. “Zizzi’s NPS score moved up to number six, the highest ever. Ask was also racing up. We opened an Ask in Westfield just before everything closed and it was trading incredibly well.”

  • closed shop sign

    Contributions to the JRS impossible for 41% unless operating at full capacity


    Rishi Sunak has announced plans to ask employers to contribute to the JRS from August, but 41% of operators say they won’t be able to contribute a penny unless they are operating at full capacity by then, according to the latest weekly Hospitality Leaders Poll by MCA Insight/HIM. Our ability to top up Furlough is based on our income,” said one multi-site operator. “We won’t be able to start paying 20% of the salaries of people furloughed unless there’s enough income to pay the bills.

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    Editor’s Opinion: The industry needs support, not another bill


    At last count, the JRS was supporting ten million people, or around 17% of the UK. It’s a mammoth amount that highlights the impact of the coronavirus crisis, the necessity of the JRS, and, unfortunately, its unsustainability. To put it in perspective, former PM Gordon Brown popped up on Good Morning Britain earlier this week, in lieu of anyone from the actual government who are all fed up of getting their face chewed off by a rabid Piers Morgan.

  • Waga

    Wagamama to open 67 more sites for delivery and collection


    Wagamama will reopen 67 sites for delivery and collection by the end of June, MCA can reveal. 

  • kfc3

    Snapshot: Discombobulating Fried Chicken at KFC


    It’s been weeks since a state of lockdown was imposed on the UK and I suspect I’m not the only one missing the colonel. The news that KFC was reopening was a welcome relief. So I went, and as delicious as the food was, visiting a KFC during lockdown is a discombobulating experience.

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    Editor’s Opinion - An uncertain future


    The 4th of July is the perfect day for a grand reopening. The date is embedded in the mind as one that represents spirit, freedom and celebration. Of course it has different connotations for the UK compared to the US, which spends the day celebrating banishing the British back in 1776, but that’s ancient history and we are all friends now. Who doesn’t love Donald Trump?

  • Restaurant

    Two years before profits return to pre-virus levels - MCA poll


    Over half of restaurants and food to go operators think it will take over a year to return to pre-coronavirus levels of profitability, according to the latest Hospitality Leaders Poll by William Reed’s specialist insight division MCA Insight/HIM. Some 55% of respondents, all of whom are either founders or board level executives, predicted it would take between 13 and 24 months to get back to the profits they were making before the crisis, with one operator suggesting that could only happen if they were “able to open to capacity”.

  • Sunak 2

    JRS extended until October


    Rishi Sunak has extended the JRS until October and does not plan to reduce the level of support from the existing 80%. He told parliament that more detail would follow at the end of May, but said he wanted to reassure people they would “continue to receive the same level of overall support as they do now at 80% of their current salary”. He also said there would be no reduction in the existing cap of £2,500 per month.

  • Restaurant interior

    PM touts July for reopening


    Boris Johnson suggested last night that the hospitality industry could start to return to normal in July, but failed to provide any detail as to how that might happen. While the industry has wrestled with the inherent complexity and financial viability of reopening social venues under existing social distancing guidelines, the PM said last night that “if the numbers support it, we will hope to reopen at least some of the hospitality industry and other public places, provided they are safe and support social distancing.”

  • Eating out

    Consumer confidence worsens over eating and drinking out


    A fortnight on from the first, another quick poll carried out by MCA Insight has revealed that consumer concern about eating and drinking out has worsened since April. Two weeks ago, 23% of consumers said they plan to eat out less once the lockdown is over – but that number has widened to 32%. And while 18% said they planned to eat out more two weeks ago, when asked the same question that number had slipped to 14%.

  • people eating burgers and chips meal restaurant

    Extending JRS top priority for 99% of multi-site operators


    Extending the JRS is the top priority for multi-site restaurant and food to go operators, closely followed by a nine-month rent break, according to a Hospitality Leaders Poll launched this week by William Reed’s specialist insight division HIM/MCA Insight. Some 99% of founders and board level executives ranked the JRS as somewhat, very, or extremely important to staying in business with the vast majority (75%) describing it as ‘extremely important’.

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