Glasgow restaurants owner says cost of living crisis will deliver ‘almost fatal blow’

The owner of some of Glasgow’s most popular restaurants has warned that immediate action must be taken, before the cost of living crisis delivers an ‘almost fatal blow’ to businesses.

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Graham Suttle of Kained Holdings, which owns The Finnieston, Porter & Rye, Lebowskis and Queen’s House, has issued a warning about the impact the cost of living crisis could have on businesses across Scotland.

Restaurants, bars and pubs have been heavily impacted by rising food and drink costs, as well as increasing energy bills.

New Prime Minister Liz Truss announced last week that a six-month scheme would offer businesses which could subsidise the wholesale price of gas, with ‘vulnerable industries’, expected to include the food and drink sector, receiving ongoing support after the initial six-month period.

The Finnieston, one of the restaurants owned by Graham Suttle.The Finnieston, one of the restaurants owned by Graham Suttle.
The Finnieston, one of the restaurants owned by Graham Suttle.

It comes at a time when restaurants are still in the process of recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic, and working out issues caused by Brexit.

“The industry has just begun limping back to life after a series of forced closures followed by staff shortages, the impact of Brexit and a resurgence of Covid among the customers as well as the staff,” said Mr Suttle.

“This has been ongoing for over two and a half years, if not longer. With staff shortages and issues caused by Brexit triggering huge difficulties in trading effectively, this new crisis is an industry killer.

“The energy crisis represents the single biggest threat to the hospitality industry – much more so than everything we have faced previously. From bars and restaurants to breweries and distilleries, the hospitality industry is staring down the barrel of a gun held by fat cats and greedy energy companies. The cost of ingredients, staffing and every other general operating cost has spiralled, but the energy crisis looming will deliver an almost fatal blow to nearly every business.”

He also warned about how the cost of living crisis could affect the hospitality industry as we head into winter, warning that it could be one of the ‘darkest periods we have ever faced’.

“There is literally nowhere to go for pretty much every operator in Scotland and the wider UK. Christmas, which should be our busiest trading period and would be expected to help the recovery of a brutalised industry, is now looking like one of the darkest periods we have ever faced,” he said.

Lebowskis - another restaurant owned by Mr Suttle.Lebowskis - another restaurant owned by Mr Suttle.
Lebowskis - another restaurant owned by Mr Suttle.

“Operators will be forced to choose between people’s jobs, turning the lights on, heating the premises or even the simple requirements of raw ingredients.

“Scotland’s operators will all be looking to both the Scottish and UK governments in utter disbelief as they have allowed the situation to spiral out of control and as a result we have businesses that simply will not be able to open.

“It is no exaggeration to say that the High Streets of the cities, towns and villages will be deathly silent this coming winter. It will be an eerie look and feel as the usual bustle of Christmas gives way to businesses all around collapsing under the burden caused by the greed of energy companies and incompetence of governments.

He is now calling for the Scottish and UK governments to take action: “We are looking at a national industry killer. The Scottish government should be proactive and do something about this, demanding the UK government freeze duty, rates, tax, everything. If they don’t, we simply won’t survive.

“If they think we can do this and limp through then they are dead wrong. Either they suffer with us now or they face a barren landscape with no jobs, no businesses, no tax, no rates, no spending, a Scotland-wide recession so deep we may never recover. It spreads to farmers, producers, transport, this will impact every sector.

“It is a total and unequivocal collapse of the entire economy. I’ve said for years we are the cornerstone of the economy and it’s terrifying that I am about to be proved right in the worst way possible, as the (entirely preventable) looming collapse of the hospitality industry brings about the worst recession the world has ever seen. As an employer, a business owner and most of all a father, I’m terrified by what lies ahead unless action is taken now.”