Burger King UK’s boss has warned it may have to cut 1,600 jobs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Economic damage stemming from the crisis could force the fast food chain to permanently close up to one in 10 of its restaurants, chief executive Alasdair Murdoch told the BBC’s Newscast.
He told Newscast: “We don’t want to lose any [jobs]. We try very hard not to, but one’s got to assume somewhere between 5% and 10% of the restaurants might not be able to survive.
“It’s not just us — I think this applies to everyone out there in our industry.”
Only about 370 of the restaurant chain’s 530 UK stores have reopened since the nation went into lockdown on 23 March.
On Wednesday (8 July), chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled a £30bn ($38bn) support package to help boost the UK’s economic recovery, which included plans to subsidise restaurant bills throughout August to encourage people to dine out.
As part of this initiative, every member of the public will be able to dine out for half the price for the entire month.
About 129,000 cafes, restaurants and pubs across the UK are expected to participate, knocking 50% off bills for a maximum discount of £10 per head.
However, the offer will only be valid for those dining in — not for takeaways.
Sunak said this move could save up to 1.8 million jobs, by encouraging Brits to return to the high street now lockdown measures have been relaxed.
VAT on hospitality and tourism will also drop from 20% to 5% for the next six months, Sunak said.
Murdoch said it was an “innovative approach,” and Burger King would participate.
However, he added that government schemes do not do enough to compensate restaurants for the combination of fixed costs and lost sales throughout the pandemic.
He told Newscast: “I don’t think you can ever get over the top of this problem.”