THE series of hospitality businesses which have closed down since the start of the new year are “just the tip of the iceberg”, a senior Scottish industry figure has warned.

The hospitality sector has been rocked by a spate of high-profile closures since the start of the year, with a number of household names in England having reached the end of the road amid relentless pressure on costs.

Industry campaigners are warning there are more closures to come, and that prediction rang true on Monday, when it was revealed that Mexican restaurant Barburrito in Glasgow city centre had closed. That was swiftly followed yesterday by the permanent closure of the long-established Beer Café in Glasgow’s Merchant City, which had been a fixture on Candleriggs since 2002.

READ MORE: Darkness falls on hospitality after high-profile closures

Leon Thompson, executive director UKHospitality Scotland, said the trade is feeling the effects of a lack of support for the industry in the Scottish Budget before Christmas.

Hospitality groups were bitterly disappointed after the Scottish Government did not provide 75% relief from business rates that the sector in England and Wales has been granted by the UK Government.

However, Scottish Finance Secretary Shona Robison announced that the small business bonus scheme would be retained and introduced 100% relief from business rates for hospitality outlets on the Scottish islands. The basic business rates poundage, for premises up to and including a rateable value of £51,000, was lefty unchanged at 49.8p.

Mr Thompson said: “These recent closures demonstrate the enormous economic challenges facing hospitality businesses, which are always more acutely felt during the quiet early months of the year.

READ MORE: Dunoon firm makes case for change to Scottish ferry network

“Persistent rising costs over the past two years have already dented business confidence considerably and this has only been exacerbated by the Scottish Government’s shocking decision not to introduce a business rates relief scheme.

“The hope of Government support was one of the last lifelines many venues had left and that was brutally ignored in last year’s Budget. Closures this early in January are just the tip of the iceberg and I truly fear that we will see more to come, as venues struggle to make ends meet.

“Given hospitality’s ability to drive economic growth, create jobs and support communities, it is a great shame that the Scottish Government has not taken the decision to support the sector. Unfortunately, these closures are the end result.

“I would urge it to reconsider its decision and introduce a business rates relief scheme. This would offer much-needed support for businesses and ensure Scottish businesses are not operating at a competitive disadvantage to England and Wales.”