Why Hog’s is struggling, and why it’s not going away
A DECLINE in disposable income has had a major impact on restaurants, and the Hog's Breath chain of eateries is not immune, says the company's CEO Ross Worth.
The iconic Queensland franchise has lost four stand-alone restaurants this year, with venues at Indooroopilly and Coolangatta the latest to close their doors.
Two also fell over in Adelaide in March although the venue at Glenelg is set to re-open with a new owner and fresh enthusiasm.
Mr Worth told The Courier-Mail the brand was strong but its restaurants worked on lean profit margins, and any downturn in discretionary spending became problematic for franchisees.
"Sadly it comes as no surprise that we would see closures in the current landscape," Mr Worth said.
"Our industry as a whole has been rocked by high-profile and prolific restaurant closures over the last 18 months, and we're not immune to a downturn in discretionary spending."
He pointed to the Gold Coast as being a graveyard for restaurants over the past 12 months.
One media report said 50 restaurants closed on the Gold Coast last year, including 20 at Broadbeach, once the location of a Hog's Breath Cafe.
"The hospitality and retail sectors on the Gold Coast have particularly suffered increasing levels of closures, with more than 50 eateries shutting their doors in one four month period alone last year," Mr Worth said.
"There's a thin profit margin in the restaurant business, with high labour costs and increasing rent, so just one bad season can have a massive impact."
The closures have come at a time when Hog's Breath Cafes have been desperately trying to promote their 30th anniversary.
He said the chain had worked hard to remain relevant in an extremely tough era in which home deliveries had surged.
"We continue to evolve and look for ways to decrease costs and increase profitability for our franchisees, through technology and many other initiatives," he said.
"We are a 65-plus-strong restaurant group celebrating its 30th year, which is unique in the Australian restaurant industry, and we'll still be here in another 30."
Following the closure of the Coolangatta restaurant and the Broadbeach eatery in 2018, there are only two Hog's Breath Cafes remaining on the Gold Coast.
They are in the heart of the tourist precincts at Cavill Ave, Surfers Paradise, and Mariner's Cove, Main Beach.