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Des Gunewardena, chief executive of D&D London – formerly known as the Conran empire – sees hard times ahead for the London restaurant business.

“Next year we will probably see more restaurants closing than opening for probably the first time in a decade”, he told businessweek.com.

According to the ultimate authority on London closings and openings – generally regarded as Harden’s – Mr Gunewardena is not in fact quite right to recall a time when more restaurants closed in London than opened.

Since 1992 (when our records began), the low point was our 2004 (ie late-2003) guide, which recorded a meagre – but still positive – 1.2 openings for every closing over the previous 12 months.

In every other year, there have been at least three openings for every two closings, so a sub-1:1 ratio really would be quite a departure.

Whatever the precise statistics, however, Mr Gunewardena is clearly not the bearer of glad tidings.

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