Devon restaurant closes after parent firm makes £14.5m loss

Inside the Wildwood restaurant at Derry's Cross, Plymouth, which closed in April 2024
-Credit: (Image: William Telford)

Wildwood restaurant in the heart of Plymouth city centre was shut down this past April alongside 13 other outlets after suffering a loss of £14.5m. Hospitality chain Tasty Plc, which also owns the Dim t Asian food brand, decided to close the Derry's Cross establishment despite its 4.1% sales growth as rising utility, food, and labour costs hit the group.

The company's newly published accounts revealed an after-tax loss that climbed from £6.4m in 2022 to £14.5m in 2023. However, according to the statement filed at Companies House, the report suggested a rebound expected by year-end following the election of the new government and the company reaching a period of stability attributed to a restructuring plan that resulted in restaurant closures and redundancies, but also allowing it to benefit from a "smaller, more profitable estate".

The business warned that challenges would persist throughout the year, influenced by factors such as inflation and potential disruption in sales due to major events like Euro 2024 football competitions, the Olympics, and general election.

The Wildwood branch at Derry's Cross initially began operation back in 2016 within a space formerly occupied by La Tasca Spanish-style tapas bar, which pulled down its shutters in 2014 after the Casual Dining Group opted to start closing or selling the restaurants. Another Wildwood branch started up at the listed Royal William Yard in 2017.

Tasty, the restaurant group, faced a tough period and in April announced its intention to close several sites as part of an extensive restructuring strategy. The firm decided to shut down loss-making establishments following a "challenging" start to the year, reports Plymouth Live.

This led to the closure of Wildwood restaurants in locations including; Plymouth, Bicester, Birmingham, Brentwood, Cambridge, Chichester, Edinburgh, Kettering, Kingston, Ludlow, Market Harborough, Skipton and Worcester, alongside the Dim t restaurant in Loughton.

In Tasty's latest annual report, chairman Keith Lassan commented on the difficulties the chain encountered. He said: "Footfall continued to be affected by the work from home culture post Covid, transportation strikes and bad weather occurring during important trading periods of the year, as well as the pressure on consumer spend as living costs continue to increase."

He observed that "Deliver and takeaway weakened during the year, without a corresponding move towards a dine-in experience. Performance at the start of 2024 was disappointing with year to date like-for-like sales only 0.2% positive."

Mr Lassan added: "We regret we had to make the difficult decision to make redundancies... but we believe this action will protect the long-term security of the group and the remaining employees."

In a move to rectify the faltering trade and a projection of earnings loss, the board took the initiative to reshape the group's estate, according to him. This included a restructuring plan comprising the closure of restaurants, lease renegotiations for remaining sites, and an introduction of a £750,000 convertible loan from Bet365 shareholder, Will Roseff.

However, Mr Lassan has expressed his belief that these bold moves have "placed the group on a firm footing to enable growth."

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