The number of job vacancies in the UK restaurant sector has dropped by 11% in the last six months, accountancy firm Moore Stephens has reported.
Advertised vacancies fell from 36,900 in November 2017 to 32,900 in April 2018, a period that has seen many high-profile brands forced to close restaurants amid tough trading conditions.
The fall reflects an increase in insolvencies among restaurant businesses, which jumped 20% to 984 in the last year, up from 825 in 2015/16.
Moore Stephens said the industry has been hit by minimum wage increases and oversupply as well as pension and apprenticeship relationship costs.
Simon Fowles, director at Moore Stephens, says: “Heaping more and more labour costs on to employers can only work for so long – sooner or later the economy splutters and employers have to look at their employment costs.
“Many restaurants simply cannot afford to remain open at the current level of staffing costs and with consumer confidence so weak there doesn’t seem to be much relief in sight.
“Five years ago, it was usual for around a quarter of revenue at most restaurants to go on wages for its staff. Now, if a restaurant spends 30% on staff pay, it is considered to be doing exceptionally well.
“Many restaurants are doing their best to avoid redundancies by freezing recruitment or reducing shift numbers by closing on quieter days, such as Mondays, but even that is a painful process.
“Struggling restaurants would really like the government to start looking at whether payroll costs could be kept under control in areas like national insurance.”