A trio of leading hospitality industry figures have today added their voices to a plea for greater support from the Scottish government and warned that without change, ‘many more jobs’ could be lost.

The Herald previously reported that more than 400 hospitality workers had signed an open letter to the First Minister, calling for a 75% business rates relief to match England ahead of the Scottish budget.

The letter, backed by the likes of Giovanna Eusebi, Dean Banks and Michael Bergson, comes after the Scottish Hospitality Group first launched its Save Scottish Hospitality campaign last month.

An excerpt reads: “As the owners, operators and employees of Scotland’s hospitality businesses, we are writing to you to urge you to Save Scottish Hospitality.

"We can’t go on like this.”

Ahead of next week's budget, one of Scotland’s most famous chefs has spoken of how businesses are struggling to recover from the pandemic while faced with ever-rising costs.

The Herald: Pictured: Chef Nick Nairn at his newly reopened cook schoolPictured: Chef Nick Nairn at his newly reopened cook school (Image: Supplied)

Nick Nairn, who has this year reopened both his Stirlingshire restaurant and cook school, said: “Our industry is in an exceedingly vulnerable position, while it might be tempting to assume that our sector will quickly return to pre-pandemic levels, the reality is quite different.

“Many businesses are now grappling with the additional burden of rising costs, coupled with substantial debts incurred during the pandemic.

“Furthermore, they face formidable challenges within the broader economic landscape; with consumers having considerably less disposable income, production costs rising and not to mention the national living wage increasing, relief is needed now.”

His sentiments were echoed by Scott Smith from Fhior, a fine dining restaurant in Edinburgh’s New Town which has recently secured a spot on this year’s prestigious Harden’s Top 100 Diners’ Poll.

The Herald: Pictured: Scott Smith of FhiorPictured: Scott Smith of Fhior (Image: Supplied)

 “I believe we are on the edge of a greater crisis for the economy,” he said.

“It's much larger than the thousands of struggling small businesses.

"Without definitive action and support from the government, I think we will see many more businesses close in the next year, with many more jobs lost, resulting in even less income in taxes for the government.

“Surely that would make it an even deeper hole to get out of”.

Further voicing concerns over an upcoming increase in the national living wage is Anna Parker, managing director and owner of Celentano’s in Glasgow.

The Italian-inspired restaurant overlooking the city’s Necropolis first opened in 2021 and was awarded a Bib Gourmand within just six months.

But without increased support from the Scottish Government, Parker fears that their toughest challenges to date lie ahead in the new year.

The Herald: Pictured: Anna Parker of Celentano'sPictured: Anna Parker of Celentano's (Image: Supplied)

She said: “If nothing is done, It will be another extremely challenging year, perhaps the hardest yet because of the National Living Wage increase too.

“In some cases, staff members will be receiving more than a £2 per hour increase in their pay.

"Whilst I don’t begrudge paying my staff what they need to be paid, it is a vicious circle.

“If they need to be paid more, then my costs need to increase (including menu prices) but with that, footfall may decrease.

“It’s a scary thought and unfortunately will result in running with tighter teams, meaning teams are more stretched.

"But there is no other way to break even, never mind make any profit.”

Along with business relief rates to match England, the Scottish Hospitality Group has called for the creation of a new hospitality category for business rates and a partnership between the hospitality industry and government to allow for development and growth.

The Herald: Pictured: Stephen Montgomery, director of the Scottish Hospitality GroupPictured: Stephen Montgomery, director of the Scottish Hospitality Group (Image: Scottish Hospitality Group)

Stephen Montgomery, director of the Scottish Hospitality Group, said: “The First Minister must listen to those on the frontline of our hospitality sector and deliver support to save our hospitality sector before many of the venues we love disappear forever.

“The Scottish Government claims it wants a new relationship with the business community.

"It’s time to put their money where their mouth is.” 

In response, a Scottish Government spokesperson said: "We are acutely aware of the enormous pressures facing businesses across the country, and are taking decisive steps to offer support.

"The Scottish Budget 2023-24 ensured the lowest poundage in the UK for the fifth year in a row and supports a package of reliefs worth an estimated £749 million, including the Small Business Bonus Scheme which is estimated to take over 100,000 properties out of rates altogether.

"We further estimate around half of the properties in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors to be eligible for 100% SBBS relief in 2023-24.

“Decisions on non-domestic rates for 2024-25 will be made as part of this month’s Budget.”