Fears for dozens of Wigan Frankie and Benny's restaurant workers as chain confirms widespread closures

Dozens of furloughed Wigan and Leigh restaurant workers' jobs hang in the balance after their employer confirmed it was permanently closing a large number of its outlets.

Wednesday, 10th June 2020, 8:23 am
Updated Wednesday, 10th June 2020, 8:36 am
The Frankie and Benny's outlet at Robin Park, Wigan, has been closed for business since the lockdown began in mid-March
The Frankie and Benny's outlet at Robin Park, Wigan, has been closed for business since the lockdown began in mid-March

Up to 3,000 jobs are on the line nationally as the owner of Frankie and Benny’s announced it was going to close 125 of its sites across the country.

The Restaurant Group said it was seeking approval from its landlords for a deal that would let it reduce the number of restaurants it runs, and negotiate lower rents for many of those left over.

The chain employs around 50 staff at its sites in Wigan and Leigh. Individual restaurants have not yet been identified publicly for closure.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Bosses said the hospitality industry was facing “well documented” problems, after the coronavirus pandemic forced many in the sector to close their doors.

If landlords approve the deal, known as a company voluntary arrangement (CVA), it will leave the firm’s leisure arm with about 160 sites.

It will also allow it to exit about 25 restaurants which have already been closed.

The Restaurant Group also owns pan-Asian chain Wagamama, and runs several pubs and concessions in airports. These will not be affected by the news, it said.

The stores that will close are “principally” Frankie and Benny’s restaurants, it added.

“The issues facing our sector are well documented and we have already taken decisive action to improve our liquidity, reduce our cost base and downsize our operations,” said chief executive Andy Hornby.

“The proposed CVA will deliver an appropriately-sized estate for our Leisure business to ensure we are well positioned despite the very challenging market conditions facing the casual dining sector.

“I would like to wholeheartedly thank all of my TRG colleagues for their continued understanding and extraordinary commitment during this unprecedented period.”

The British Property Federation said it had been talking to The Restaurant Group before it proposed the CVA, but it would be up to individual landlords to decide how to vote on the deal.

The federation’s chief executive Melanie Leech said: “These situations are never easy, particularly now for the retail and hospitality businesses on our high streets at the sharp end of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Property owners, however, need to take into consideration the impact on their investors, including the millions of people whose savings and pensions are invested in commercial property, as they vote on any CVA proposal.”

A message from the Editorial Director, Gillian Parkinson:

Thank you for reading this story on our website.

But I also have an urgent plea to make of you.

In order for us to continue to provide high quality local news on this free-to-read site and in print, please purchase a copy of our newspaper as well.

With the coronavirus lockdown having a major impact on our town centres and many of our valued advertisers - and consequently the advertising that we receive - we are more reliant than ever on you buying a copy when you pop out for your essential shop or subscribing for delivery.

Our journalists are highly trained by the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) and our content is independently regulated by IPSO to some of the most rigorous standards anywhere in the world. Our content is universally trusted - as all independent research proves.

As Baroness Barran said in a House of Lords debate this week on the importance of journalists: "Not only are they a trusted source of facts, but they will have a role to play in rallying communities and getting the message across about how we can keep ourselves and our families safe, and protect our NHS. Undoubtedly, they have a critical role."

But being your eyes and ears comes at a price. So we need your support more than ever to buy our newspapers during this crisis. In return we will continue to forensically cover the local news - not only the impact of the virus but all the positive and uplifting news happening in these dark days.

We thank all our readers and advertisers for their understanding and support - and we wish YOU all the best in the coming weeks. Keep safe, and follow the Government advice. Thank you.

HOW TO SUBSCRIBE: You can subscribe for delivery by contacting us at [email protected] or calling us on 0330 4033004 for details of a participating newsagent near you.