Baton Berisha to leave D&D London to take up a position as CEO of ‘rival restaurant group’: D&D London has announced its managing director Baton Berisha will be leaving the business to take up a position as chief executive of a “rival restaurant group”. In April, D&D confirmed the appointment of Berisha, former chief executive of the Ivy Collection, Bill’s and Caprice Holdings, as its new managing director. Des Gunewardena, chairman and chief executive of D&D, said: “Well that was a whirlwind romance! We certainly didn’t fall out of love with one another. But Baton was offered a position that he felt he could not refuse. And we understand and respect that. He leaves with our blessing and best wishes. Following his departure David Loewi will revert to his role overseeing the group’s operations as chief operating officer.” Earlier today (Wednesday, 3 August), the company said that central London restaurants were recovering from the pandemic downturn far more slowly than those based in major provincial cities. The company, which owns a string of venues in the capital such as Quaglino’s and Le Pont de la Tour, said its restaurants in Manchester and Leeds were trading well above pre-covid levels. However, in central London the climb back to 2019 normality was constantly being set back by “bumps in the road” such as transport strikes and the heatwave. During the two-day heatwave in July, revenue at its London venues dropped 30% while revenue at its Manchester and Leeds restaurants increased by 10%. The Omicron outbreak over the winter had also severely damaged the recovery. The company said that the Omicron restrictions have wiped £4m off revenues while the rail and Underground strikes last month had cost another £1m. A further round of strikes later this month could cost a similar amount of lost trade it warned. Group revenue over the 15 months from April 2021, when the second long lockdown ended, and June 2022, were £163m, or 90% of pre-covid levels, while earnings were £17m, or 122% of pre-covid. The company said it is facing inflation averaging 10% but this was balanced by higher spending.