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Le Pain Quotidien falls to loss amid ‘challenging’ high street conditions

The upmarket cafe chain fell to a £696,407 annual pre-tax loss on the back of a decline in high street footfall and cost increases.

Upmarket cafe chain Le Pain Quotidien has fallen into the red as “challenging” high street conditions weighed on sales in 2018.

The UK arm of the Belgian-owned cafe business slid to a £696,407 pre-tax loss in the year to December 31, from a £1.3 million profit a year earlier.

Le Pain Quotidien, which has 29 UK sites, described the year as “challenging” for the business, as it faced a decline in high street footfall as well as rising commodity costs.

It is the latest dining chain to be pushed to a loss by a decline in consumer spending, and comes on the back of a number of high-profile company voluntary arrangements (CVAs) to rescue dining firms.

Last month, Jamie Oliver’s restaurant group collapsed into administration with the closure of 22 sites, while Prezzo and Carluccio’s both completed CVAs over the past year.

Le Pain Quotidien’s profitability was also pushed down by a decline in sales, with the firm reporting a turnover of £37.9 million for the full year.

This represents a 4% drop in sales, from £39.5 million over the same period in 2017, according to recently released Companies House accounts.

It said: “The year ended December 31 was a challenging year for the company, with the company facing the continued challenging trading conditions the whole of the UK high street is seeing, with reduced footfall and increased cost pressures.”

The chain also warned that Brexit could have a “significant impact” on its staffing, as “most store staff” are EU nationals, but added that it believes the Government will ensure an agreement is met which will see the staff remain in the UK.

It said that it predominantly sources from UK suppliers, so expects the Brexit-related impact to its supply to be “minimal”.

In March this year, the cafe chain confirmed it ended its controversial practice of pocketing some of the service charge left by customers for its staff.

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