Wahaca says rising business rates are ‘latest problem’

Co-founder of Wahaca, Thomasina Miers
17/07/2017 - 09:50
Mexican restaurant chain Wahaca, which suffered a nationwide virus outbreak late last year, has said that business rates are hurting the company and killing businesses around the UK.

Mark Selby, who co-founded the company with MasterChef winner Thomasina Miers in 2005, saw the restaurant’s sales fall 45% during the time of last November’s Norovirus.

A total of 18 of Wahaca’s 25 restaurants were affected by the outbreak, with 11 having to be closed, including branches in Manchester and Covent Garden.

The company survived the scare, but according to Selby, now have a ‘new nightmare’ in the increase in business rates.

“Across all our sites, we reckon business rates will have gone up 40% by 2020, and some are jumping 25% to 30% straight away. In Central London it’s crazy,” said Selby.

He added: “The government doesn’t realise how many businesses it’s killing around the UK. It’s hideous. We will get through it, but it’s made us look at our expansion plans and it makes some sites less viable.”

Selby also highlighted the new national living wage and rises in rent prices as reasons why Wahaca might have to raise the prices on their menus by 2%.

He said: “We’ve had two rent reviews recently, one raising the rent in Covent Garden from £140,000 to £400,000 a year, the other in Soho, raising it from £400,000 to £1m a year, which we are still disputing.

‘There is huge cost pressure. It’s unprecedented. We are looking at a cost increase this year of £1m to £1.5m on turnover of £45m. That is a big hit.”

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