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Rail strikes cause £5bn loss for UK hospitality

The latest round of rail strikes in the UK is expected to result in a £387 million (US$489m) loss for the hospitality sector, UKHospitality has warned.

The UK’s hospitality sector has faced £5bn in losses since the dispute started two years ago

Since the dispute began in 2022 and with the new round of strikes, the sector’s losses will cross the £5 billion (US$6.3bn) mark – close to £750m alone in 2024.

The current four-day spate of industrial action, taking place between Friday 5 April and today (Monday 8 April), will cost the industry around £387m in losses, the trade body said.

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, spoke of the impact: “There is never a good time for strikes but this disruption will be particularly damaging. Families looking to enjoy the Easter holidays will now find plans disrupted and hospitality businesses trying to generate much-needed sales will see customer numbers dwindle.

“As April marks the cost of wages and business rates increasing annually by £3.4bn for hospitality, businesses were looking to a successful Easter to help cover those new costs. That now looks like an increasingly difficult prospect.

Nicholls added that all parties “urgently” need to get back to the negotiating table and find a solution.

“Hospitality continues to suffer as collateral damage in this dispute and it’s putting at risk the many ways hospitality serves Britain – through offering great experiences, employing millions of people and putting billions of pounds into the economy.”

The need for open discussions

CEO of the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) Michael Kill has also commented on how night-time businesses in the UK have been impacted by the dispute, which has “compounded” all the current hardships that the sector is facing.

In the UK, large numbers of closures were posted last year in England and Scotland – with revenue losses, higher operating costs and taxes all cited as key contributors.

Kill has been vocal in asking the UK government for urgent support.

Regarding the latest round of strikes, he said the disruption has “not only affected livelihoods but jeopardised the safety and wellbeing of both staff and customers, who must navigate their way home late at night”.

Kill called on all parties to engage in “open discussions” to find long-term solutions that balance workers’ rights and night-time economy needs.

He said: “The continuation of industrial action is without doubt taking its toll on businesses and has added to the current challenges faced by the sector. This cannot continue if we are to build back and recover from what feels like a four-year hangover.”

In February, NTIA partnered with the Institute of Hospitality (IOH) to launch a campaign to save the on-trade.

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