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Heat is on for Cheltenham curry houses

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: September 04, 2012

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DIFFICULT trading conditions have turned up the heat on Cheltenham's curry houses.

Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi restaurant owners in the town said they were having to cope with a significant fall in business over the past year.

Trade has declined by 35 to 40 per cent at some venues.

Worried curry house bosses have urged the Government to slash VAT in order to give ailing businesses a boost.

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Mohammed Rahman, who runs The Spice Lodge, in Montpellier Drive, said trading conditions were the toughest they had been for years.

He said: "It is very tough at the moment for curry restaurants and for restaurants in general at the moment.

"The fact is that people have less money at their disposal so are not able to eat out as often.

"A lot of restaurant owners are worried about how to cope with the situation.

"One option some have looked at is reducing the number of staff, but then you can't maintain the level of service so that is a risk too.

"Small businesses especially are the ones being affected."

He said a rise in VAT and high business rates had piled on the misery for the town's restaurateurs struggling to weather the storm.

He added: "We have had to cope with VAT going up from 17.5 per cent to 20 per cent but we can't put prices up as that wouldn't be fair on customers.

"We want the Government to look at this because people need all the help they can get.

"We also want councils to look at lowering business rates because that is another cost on top of everything else.

"Cheltenham is renowned for its curry restaurants and for eating out in general. We want to keep it that way."

Leaders of Britain's £3.6 billion a year curry industry have written to Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne urging them to cut VAT to stimulate business.

British Curry Awards founder Enam Ali, chairman of the Guild of Bangladeshi Restaurateurs, said: "Even a small reduction in the 20 per cent VAT rate on restaurant meals could make all the difference between restaurants surviving or going to the wall. It could encourage customers to start spending again. We need the Government to act and to do so soon."

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  • Dave_t10  |  September 05 2012, 12:40AM

    Maybe they should look at their prices, reducing the price may see far higher numbers dining and thus higher profits. Many are charging £8-9 just for a curry without any extras such as rice, bread etc. That's ridiculous for less than 10 pieces of cheap meat. Most people don't consider a curry a meal worth paying a lot of money for, but yet a decent meal and a few drinks ends up costing £30 which is really quite expensive and there are better options available in town at this price. I don't think reducing the VAT by 2.5% is going to make much difference either, on £30 its just 75p! Doesn't really make much difference.

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  • julianw  |  September 04 2012, 7:25PM

    Ref: "We have had to cope with VAT going up from 17.5 per cent to 20 per cent but we can't put prices up as that wouldn't be fair on customers.". I don't follow. Most other retail businesses passed on the VAT increase, eventually if not immediately. I wonder if the issue is one of location? Every time I eat out in Cheltenham places are busy, especially in prime locations such as The Brewery. Some of these curry houses are in secondary locations away from high footfall areas. I wonder if they are they marketing themselves cost effectively to draw in new customers ...and retain them?

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  • Cotswold Insurance Brokers  |  September 04 2012, 12:58PM

    I stopped going for an Indian because the meals are all so similar and boring. Take a chicken tikka masala - it doesnt matter where you go in town, its bright red and bland. Why are all currys houses cooking food this way. Do they know its not the 90's anymore and customers have become more discerning. We dont all go for a curry after a night on the town and eat what we get given IMO Its cheaper and tastier to eat a supermarket chicken tikka masala.

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  • BIGBADJOHN_23  |  September 04 2012, 10:58AM

    I cannot see how a reduction will help these restaurants as half of them do not pay VAT anyway they keep themselves under the VAT threshold. !!!! The reason people have stopped going is the food has now got boring they are not even Indian they are pakistani/bangladeshi. Ask for a staff curry, totally different and really good why they do not sell it I have no idea.

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