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Layoffs to ring in the new year

A popular East End restaurateur and tourism entrepreneur is cutting his staff of 36 by more than half next week as he anticipates depressing business in the first quarter of the year.

While he is hoping to bring them back, The White Horse restaurant owner Dennie O’Connor believes that as many as 20 per cent of Bermuda restaurants could soon close their doors.

Mr O’Connor, who owns restaurants and tourism-linked establishments, has already told his employees that staffing levels would be cut from 36 people to 14 before Monday.

He said in a story in The Royal Gazette’syear in review: “Strange to say this but the worst of 2021 doesn’t finish until the start of spring of 2022 as our season (financial year) is to April 1. January, February and March will be an unbelievable struggle.”

For the full story, click here

Mr O’Connor added: “We have learned very clearly this year that the smaller your business is, the harder you have to fight for survival because ‘credit’ doesn’t exist and everything is cash on delivery, while bigger companies have 90 days and get priority on goods.

“If government doesn’t continue to help, landlords and banks continue to understand, at least 20 per cent more restaurants will be forced to close their doors in the next three months.

“The industry will recover, we just have to continue holding on but realistically restaurants are at least two years out from seeing any profits.”

Meanwhile, the president of the Island Restaurant Group, Philip Barnett, has conceded that 2021 was incredibly challenging and the impact of Covid and the absence of tourism have affected bars and restaurants disproportionately compared with other businesses in Bermuda.

He said: “That is obviously causing a very difficult environment for us to even think about breaking even.”

The need for smaller group sizes, social distancing and other pandemic-related issues have been part of the reason the tills at island eateries have not been ringing.

Mr O’Connor believes that Bermudians will really have to pull together this winter.

He is hopeful that the Government, bankers and creditors will be lenient and understanding. He says that is the only thing that will keep some restaurants in business.

Read more of this story and a round-up of other news in the Year in Review.

More space: the need for smaller groups and social distancing and other pandemic related issues have slowed the tills at some island eateries (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

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Published December 31, 2021 at 8:00 am (Updated January 03, 2022 at 8:06 am)

Layoffs to ring in the new year

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