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Thursday, May 30, 2024
NewsHospitalityManchester site to permanently close

Manchester site to permanently close

It is with real sadness that we have come to the very difficult decision to close our Manchester site and will not be reopening when current government restrictions are lifted (this does not affect the Liverpool restaurants in Hanover street and Albert Dock and our online business).  The impact of Covid-19 has been profound on our business and we cannot survive the future with three restaurant sites.  As soon as we partially open with space restrictions, the losses that we will collectively make will be too great to sustain across all three sites and risk bringing the whole company down.  No matter what projections we do and what actions we try, sadly we cannot find a way to make it all work.

We have been in discussions with our Manchester landlord, our lenders and government agencies trying to secure additional funding and support which could help, but we have been unsuccessful in most of this, and there is no option that we can find that means Lunya Manchester can be viable.

In the close to five years that we have been open, Lunya has been taken to heart by Mancunians, supporting us every step of the way. Our highlights being awarded the MEN City Life restaurant of the Year in our first year of opening and being listed in the Good Food Guide for every year we have been open. We have been successful on so many levels and have loved every minute of it.

The last two years since the Brexit referendum have presented additional challenges for everyone in the hospitality industry, and especially us as a hugely import-focused business.  With declining consumer confidence, a huge drop in the Euro exchange rate and large increases in business rates, generalcosts and overheads, this has meant significant cost pressures and taken together with the devastating impact of the closure from the Coronavirus, it has made Lunya Manchester financially untenable, and our current site too expensive to operate from for as long as we can see.

Our two Liverpool sites are the profitable sites and to protect those, we have had to take the very painful decision to close Manchester to give our remaining businesses in Liverpool a chance and minimise the losses that we will build up as we partially open our Liverpool sites.  We think that we can manage with two sites opening with partial covers, whenever the government allows us to, and certainly with the fantastic support our customers have shown us so far, we are as confident as you can be.

We will, via our Hanover Street operation be maintaining our service to customers in Manchester, selling online and delivering locally, providing a click and collect service at a venue to be determined and even putting on some of our events with partner venues.  We think there is a way for Lunya to have a ‘virtual’ presence in Manchester, but sadly not operating as a restaurant, deli and bar in Barton Arcade. We are already in discussions with potential partners about a central venue for a click and collect service.  And in the future, if we can find a smaller, and more cost-effective site we may well be back in years to come.

All of our Manchester staff are furloughed and we will maintain this for as long as possible.  Given the changes to the furlough scheme in coming months, we envisage our staff finishing at the very end of August, when all of our staff are likely to me made redundant as the contributory costs to furlough are not tenable without income.  We have started a statutory redundancy consultation with all of our 30 strong team.  We would urge any other restaurant operators who are seeking talented chefs, waiters, retail staff, bar staff and managers to consider the huge talent that our staff have as they seek to recruit to their teams.  We have looked at opportunities for redeployment in Lunya Liverpool and Lunyalita into operational posts, but we have no vacancies in either of those sites.

We think there will be many more closures such as this across the country. We have not qualified for any government support grant, and possibly with that, we may have been able to risk carrying on.  We have insurance cover for pandemics, business interruption and forced closure, but as so many restaurant operators are discovering, insurers are denying claims and we will continue to fight for ours, but even if it is successful, it will now be too late.

In March, I wrote an impassioned letter to the Prime Minister (copied in annex) about action the government needed to take to support businesses.  Whilst some things improved, the government response was not enough.  We tweeted that letter out and it was seen by just on 2 million people (nearly 1 in 30 of the UK population), that produced so much support for Lunya, outpouring of love and expressions of empathy. It worries us that if we cannot get through this without a site closure, how will the rest of the industry.  We are a strong and successful business. Here is our Tweet and message https://twitter.com/lunya/status/1240262938927280132?lang=en

On a personal level, we are terribly sad and disappointed that it has come to this.  Anyone who knows us and the business will know we have thrown everything at it, are very proud, passionate and active owners and work every day in our restaurants.  We have grown a fabulous restaurant, bar and deli in Manchester, we have made some great friendships and had some really good times working with our team and giving our customers the very best of Catalan and Spanish food. The memories of this and the positive impact we have made on the Manchester gastronomy scene, we will never lose.  We have wonderful customers and hope through our online, local deliveries and other events we will still enjoy their support and serve them – just in a different way. It will be more ‘hasta pronto’ rather than ‘adios’. Manchester hasn’t seen the last of us.

Peter & Elaine Kinsella

 

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