Restaurants, particularly the booming middle-market chains, increasingly fear that the credit crunch could result in some belt-tightening by diners. Des Gunewardena, chief executive of D&D London which owns most of the Conran restaurants, described it was “like waiting for a hurricane”. Prezzo last week reported a 39% decline in first-half pre-tax profits and said trading condition were the toughest since it opened in 2000.Analysts expect to see more negative results. The shaky economy, decreased consumer spending and rising food, labour and utility costs have combined to create the worst conditions since the 1990s. Bob Cotton, chief executive of the British Hospitality Association, says the pressure is mounting. But Andrew Garbutt, of PwC, does not believe any decline will be as severe as in previous downturns. He says that eating out is now “a habit” for many consumers and the credit crunch will “not change the course of this cultural behaviour”. Financial Times 13/09/08 page 13 (Companies & Markets)