David Walton – HL

Too much to loo-se

A high court ruling requiring two bakery branches to install customer toilets on the premises could have a disastrous impact on small businesses, says our Head of Retail David Walton.
David Walton - HL The case has seen Greggs ordered to install toilets in two of its branches, despite the bakery’s claim that it was predominantly a take-away outlet, and the ruling could now have real implications for small businesses.
 Acting as an agent on behalf of fast food chains Wrapchic and Inferno, we actively seek suitable sites across the UK, and space is very much at a premium. Not only are many properties earmarked for takeaway use unsuitable to adapt by installing toilets, but the Disability Discrimination Act requires minimum cubicle sizes which will take a huge percentage of an outlet’s sales space away.
There are currently more than 21,000 take-away outlets and over 5,000 coffee shops in the UK – and if the ruling stands, that number could diminish as owners are forced to close because they can’t afford to make the provisions.
Alternatively, it could see them forced to relocate to larger, more expensive premises, thus putting them under more pressure to meet heightened sales targets, orto  make the decision not to provide small seating areas for those customers who choose to eat their food immediately rather than grab and go, thereby potentially losing some of their customers.
Greggs is appealing against the decision, and no doubt thousands of small business owners across the country are hoping that they succeed in getting it overturned.