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140 staff let go as iconic Bewley's café in Dublin closes for six months

The cafe’s owners say it is currently significantly loss making.

Image: irishjaunt via Flickr/Creative Commons

Updated 11.57am

GRAFTON STREET’S ICONIC Bewley’s café has announced plans to close for six months and make 140 staff redundant.

Owners say the Dublin café is currently significantly loss-making due to a combination of high rent and lingering effects of the economic downturn.

Renovation works are due to take place, with the café expected to reopen later this year with a simplified layout without its upper floors.

However, group chief executive John Cahill said the ‘physical structure of the café must be protected’.

“Ongoing and major losses are not a viable option for the café,” he said in a statement.

We have a choice of either permanent closure or investing in a realignment and rejuvenation of the café.  We have chosen to underpin its future sustainability through a restructuring plan involving further investment and improvement.

“Bewley’s is committed to preserving the café as part of the social and cultural fabric of Dublin and in this regard has been willing to provide financial support to the café to date.”

It will focus on ‘high quality goods’ when it reopens, and will expand its craft bakery.

The café currently faces €1.5 million annual rent, and is loss-making at a rate of €1.2 million per year.

Last year, Bewley’s lost at a case at the Supreme Court to have it rental terms renegotiated.

Speaking to reporters this afternoon, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise, and Innovation Richard Bruton extended his sympathies to the workers facing redundancy.

The Minister noted that although some individual companies are facing difficulties, the hospitality and tourism sector is performing better than others.

“You have to look at this in the larger context,” Bruton said.

“The hospitality sector is doing particular well, you have thousands of additional people at work. There are opportunities.”

Originally published 7.48am. Additional reporting by Peter Bodkin.

Read: Bewley’s has failed to get a reduction in its rental terms >

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