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Reasonable Profit

London restaurant owners warned yesterday that the 2012 Olympics will be non profitable for business and a repeat of the "wash-out" Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton in April.

The London Olympic and Paralympic Games are expected to attract approximately 5.5 million daytime visitors and 900,000 over-night visitors, but some restaurateurs say they will lose out. They claim regulars and cultural tourists will stay away, fans attending events will not have a dinner in central London, and transport disruption, such as road closures, will be the cause of problems for customers and suppliers.

The Earl of Bradford, chairman of the Restaurant Association and owner of Porters English Restaurant and Covent Back garden Grill, said the Royal Wedding last April was a "wash-out" and he suspected the Olympics could be, also. "I think that's an instance when people are in London especially for one purpose they don't think of going out to a restaurant."

He asked whether theatregoers, who eat out regularly, might go into London during the Games. This summer, more than half the shows in the West End extended their booking periods to offer purchases 15 months in development to cover the Olympic dates.

Peter Prescott, regulating director of Prescott & Conran, which runs the Barrier and Albion restaurants in Shoreditch, east London, and Lutyens in Fleet Street, is concerned regular business consumers will go to corporate events hosted by the Games organising committee's sponsors and partners at Olympic venues rather than occupy in restaurants. Many Olympic events clashed by having normal dining times, he said.

He is also concerned about getting deliveries-- he is currently hearing from service providers aboutproblems produced by way of disruptions to their routes.

But Mark Evers at Transport for London, in charge of obtaining spectators to the events, told you the Games would provide restaurants by having "fabulous opportunities", but those in affected locations needed to start planning right now. He told you speaking to service providers early and testing alternative arrangements need to minimize the impact.

Nevertheless, Tom Jenkins, executive director of the European Tour Operators Association, bemoaned a "overall absence of normal visitors" in London throughout the Olympics. He said that, while operators might typically predict to bring between 20,000 and 30,000 individuals per night into London throughout August, there was currently a 95 per cent decline in leisure business throughout the Games.

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