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Norwich's Ivy Brasserie owner sees earnings fall as costs soar

PUBLISHED: 09:44 02 January 2019 | UPDATED: 13:46 02 January 2019

The Ivy Brasserie in London Street. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The Ivy Brasserie in London Street. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Archant

Despite Norwich's recently opened Ivy restaurant being a hit with customers, the owner of the brand has been stung by soaring business rates.

The Ivy Brasserie in London Street. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe Ivy Brasserie in London Street. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Independent restaurant owners are teaching the chain titans a lesson in 2019, with the news that the owner of the Ivy and Bill’s is seeing earnings fall due to rising costs.

Richard Caring, who owns an eatery empire including Norwich’s Ivy Brasserie, Bills, and others such as J Sheekey and Daphne’s, revealed operating profits had fallen from £8.7m to £7.2m in 2017.

Recently filed accounts for Mr Caring’s Caprice Holdings show that overall turnover nudged up 0.8% to £67.7m in the year to December 31, 2017.

However the group said it was held back by “well publicised cost increases in a number of key areas for the hospitality industry”, including wage costs and “significant increases in both rent and business rates”.

The Ivy Brasserie in London Street. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe Ivy Brasserie in London Street. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Francis Woolf, who founded the Woolf & Social in 2015 with business partner Felix Rehberg, said the chains have nothing to complain about – and have advantages when it comes to cost.

Mr Woolf said: “The big chains can go to suppliers and say: ‘Sell me this for that price, and I’ll buy it for all my restaurants.’ We can’t do that, so if anything the cards are stacked in their favour.

“Luckily for us, even though we’re not a chain, we have a network with other independent businesses who appreciate how tough it is and will give us the best price they can.”

Mr Woolf continued: “When it comes to staffing, the minimum wage rise didn’t affect us because we’ve never paid that. For us, we’ll pay more for the best staff who really care about what they do.

“In a chain, you could care so much and still get paid the same as the person beside you who is just there to make money.”

Chain restaurants across the country have been hit hard this year with several high-profile store closure programmes and administrations at the likes of burger chain Byron, Prezzo and steak eatery Gaucho.

“We don’t have customers who would go to a chain restaurant. We have people who want to support the independents, and that customer base is growing – especially in places like Norwich,” Mr Woolf added.

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