Staff at Bewley’s cafe on Grafton Street are made redundant

Some 100 staff are being let go, dashing hopes the historic café could be saved from closure

Bewley’s café on Grafton Street, Dublin. The café has closed permanently with the loss of 110 jobs. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

Bewley’s café on Grafton Street, Dublin. The café has closed permanently with the loss of 110 jobs. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

 

Staff at Bewley’s café on Grafton Street have been told they are being made redundant, scotching hopes that the decision to close the historic café would be reversed.

Some 110 staff are being made redundant and they were informed of the decision by the company on Wednesday evening. The café’s last day of trading before the lockdown was March 16th.

The decision to close the café permanently was announced in May by the operator of the business, Bewley’s Ltd, which is owned by artist Paddy Campbell.

The closure has been blamed on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the economy, which has been in lockdown since March, and the €1.5 million annual rental cost on the protected structure.

In a statement released to The Irish Times, a spokesman for Bewley’s said: “Following the completion of an employee consultation process that commenced in May, Bewley’s Café Grafton Street has today, with profound sadness, confirmed the permanent closure of the café.

“As a result, all café employees have been informed they will be made redundant. The company will continue to engage with impacted employees in relation to their redundancies and ensure their statutory and contractual entitlements are discharged in full.

“The company and the Campbell family wish to thank the café’s loyal customers, partners and staff, past and present, for all their love and support over the years.”

The decision to close the café was also blamed on the added costs of social distancing measures were it to have reopened, and reduced consumer demand.

“Taking into consideration all of the information currently available to us, there is a real likelihood that the café will generate substantial and unsustainable losses into the future, and we need to take urgent steps to address that situation,” stated a note to staff in May from the café’s managing director Cól Campbell, a son of Paddy Campbell.

It is understood that Bewley’s withheld its rent for the second quarter of this year, which resulted in it receiving a 21-day statutory demand from the landlord threatening to wind up the company for non-payment.

The building is leased from RGRE Grafton Limited, which is controlled by property developer Johnny Ronan. The rent amounted to about 30 per cent of the café’s annual sales.

While the café has closed for good, the wider Bewley’s coffee and tea group continues to trade with wholesale and retail operations in Ireland, the UK and the United States.