Bettys announces closure of York tearooms on Stonegate with dozens of jobs at risk

THE MANAGING director of Bettys has revealed that the famous Yorkshire company is having to close one of its tearooms which has placed dozens of jobs at risk.

The café on Stonegate in the centre of York will not re-open after the branch has been deemed to be no longer financially viable.

Simon Eyles, the managing director of the 100-year-old company based in Harrogate, told The Yorkshire Post that none of Bettys’ five other tearooms are at risk of closure.

Sign up to our Business newsletter

Sign up to our Business newsletter

The closure of the café, which was known as Little Bettys, will affect a total of 34 employees, although Mr Eyles confirmed that efforts are underway to redeploy the staff to other parts of the business.

Bettys has announced that its branch on Stonegate in the centre of York will not re-open, placing 34 jobs at risk. (Picture: Bettys).

It is hoped that compulsory redundancies will be avoided, and a programme of voluntary redundancies has been launched at the two Bettys branches in York.

He said: “It’s with a heavy heart that we’re announcing that the café at Bettys Stonegate, York, will be closing for good.

“The branch shop is staying open and none of our other branches are affected.

“Our Stonegate café is the smallest of our cafés, housed in a unique, historic building, full of charm.

“But its layout has become an increasingly challenging environment to work in.

“Over the last few years, we’ve tried several different ways to make it work better for our people, our customers and our business.

“Unhappily, we haven’t been able to find a formula that fits.

“We’re working now to redeploy as many people as possible and doing everything we can to avoid compulsory redundancies.”

While the company confirmed that the Covid-19 pandemic has had a “significant impact” on its business with the Stonegate café being closed since March last year, a spokeswoman stressed that the coronavirus crisis has not been the trigger for the closure.

The five other Bettys tearooms in Harrogate, Harlow Carr, Ilkley and Northallerton as well as the main cafe in York will continue to operate.

The ground-floor shop in Bettys Stonegate will re-open, although the upstairs tearooms, which could accommodate 60 customers across 20 tables, is closing.

A second branch opened in York in 1965, and the Stonegate tearooms was initially run by Bettys’ sister company, the tea and coffee merchants Taylors of Harrogate.

It became a Bettys in 1999, initially known as Little Bettys before being rebranded as Bettys Stonegate in 2011.

The spokeswoman said: “Bettys is a 100-year-old family business and our history has shown us that we need to adapt and change, from closing branches in Leeds or Bradford, to moving Bettys Harrogate and opening branches in Northallerton, Ilkley and Harlow Carr.

“Over the last few years, we’ve been looking at how to make Bettys stronger for the future – and that process, rather than the impact of the pandemic, which has led to our Stonegate decision.”

While the company has declined to disclose whether Bettys Stonegate had remained a profitable element of the business, the spokeswoman stressed that the closure had not been driven by a cost-cutting exercise.

She added: “The closure hasn’t been driven by the pandemic or a cost-cutting exercise. It’s about strengthening our business for the long-term future.”