- Neat Burger owner Neat Meat reported a loss after tax of around £7.9m for 2022
- The group opened its third non-British restaurant in Italy just last week
According to This is Money, Lewis Hamilton and Leonardo DiCaprio-backed synthetic meat restaurant group Neat Meat is to close four of its eight UK burger joints.
Neat Meat, whose losses rose by around 140 percent last year, currently has Neat Burger restaurants in the London boroughs of Camden, Soho, Stratford, Oxford Circus, Canary Wharf, Victoria, Liverpool Street and Wembley.
The group, which also received backing from Japanese investment giant Softbank, will close its Liverpool Street, Canary Wharf, Oxford Street and Westfield Stratford sites before Christmas, according to sources familiar with the company’s plans.
And redundancies are looming as bosses have warned staff that the company’s “future is at risk”.
Neat Burger Restaurant and Neat Meat takeaways offer vegan burgers
The company told employees it was forced to close due to rising property rents, the cost of living crisis and the impact of hybrid working patterns on London’s lunchtime trade.
The company also accepted that it had grown too quickly in its earlier stages and currently only has three locations that are exceeding year-on-year sales. Instead, it will focus on venues that continue to deliver growth.
Employees were told, “Sometimes it is necessary to take a step back in order to take a bigger leap forward.”
The group also has a franchise offering and a dark kitchen business that sells meals via delivery only.
According to the group’s most recently filed Companies House report, Neat Meat made an after-tax loss of almost £7.9 million in 2022, down from £3.2 million the previous year.
The report also reveals that the group was forced to put the opening of a new venue at London’s O2 Arena on hold while it transferred its Finsbury Park site to a third party, “in line with our overarching strategy to focus our efforts on Concentrate smaller venues in areas with ‘high footfall’.
However, this didn’t stop Neat Meat from announcing the opening of its third location outside the UK just last week, with the Milan location adding restaurants in New York and Mumbai.
Last week also saw the announcement of a new charity partner: Made In Hackney, a local community kitchen.
Led by CEO and early Beyond Meat investor Ryan Bishti, Neat Meat closed a funding round in 2021 that valued the group at $70 million and opened up plans for rapid expansion.
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However, this is due to a more difficult trading environment for manufacturers and suppliers of meat alternatives, which were growing in popularity just a few years ago.
THIS founder says vegan food is having a “craft beer moment”.
It is claimed the vegan market could be worth up to £50bn globally by 2030, but sales in the UK appear to have stagnated.
The situation may have been exacerbated by the cost of living crisis – vegan products tend to be more expensive than meat and dairy products – as well as market oversaturation.
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Earlier this year, Beyond Meat reported a 33 percent loss in sales, while British brand Meatless Farm filed for bankruptcy in June.
Bishti herself told the Telegraph in May that consumers had become “tired” of low-quality vegan products.
Investment house PGIM wrote this summer: “Plant-based meat dominates the headlines, but the reality doesn’t match the hype.”
“The steep growth rates for plant-based meat producers have either plateaued or peaked.
“Just a few years ago – when fast food chains began offering Beyond Meat burgers – there were expectations for continued exponential growth and drastic changes in consumer preferences.
“But growth rates have stalled, and today the alternative meat market is still a tiny fraction – less than 0.2 percent – of the $1.7 trillion global meat market.”
“In fact, demand for alternative meat is declining, while global demand for animal meat is expected to grow by 14 percent by 2030.”
Neat Meat did not respond to requests for comment.
Leo supports Neat Burger
Lewis Hamilton and Leonardo DiCaprio are both investors in Neat Meat
British Formula 1 star Lewis Hamilton is an investor in Neat Meat and said he was “really proud of the boundaries we have been able to push in this area this year and the expansion plans are really exciting”.
The Mercedes driver added: “As someone who follows a plant-based diet, I believe we need a healthier supermarket option that tastes amazing but also offers something exciting for those who want to give up meat every now and then. “
Hamilton is supported by Hollywood star Leonardo DiCaprio as an investor.
DiCaprio said: “Transforming our food system with sustainable alternatives is one of the most important ways we can make a real difference in reducing global emissions.”
“Neat Burger’s groundbreaking approach to alternative proteins is a great example of the type of solutions we need in the future.”