The sale of a Glasgow restaurant to a UK pub chain is a "wake-up call" that smaller, independent businesses are"dwindling away", a sector leader has said.

Stephen Montgomery, spokesman for the Scottish Hospitality Group and restaurateur, said it would be difficult for Ubiquitous Chip to retain its brand identity under Metropolitan Pub Company, a subsidiary of Greene King, which is owned by Chinese conglomerate CK Asset Holdings.

Our sister title The Herald reports Mr Montgomery said the sale, which included two other family-run restaurants owned by Colin Clydesdale and his wife Carol Wright, should not come as a surprise given the ongoing challenges the industry is facing in recruitment and cost-of-living rises.

Glasgow Times:

He said he had reluctantly taken the decision to sell his own hotel in March to a care home operator and also handed the lease back on two other hotels because of difficult trading conditions.

"For a business that has been going from 1971...for them to make the decision to sell shows the concern that we all have in the debt levels that we all have and seen throughout the pandemic and trying to get people back in with the staff shortages," said Mr Montgomery.

READ MORE: Nine fun facts you never knew about Glasgow's famous Ubiquitous Chip restaurant

"It's a wake-up call that the bigger people are getting bigger and the smaller places are dwindling away.

"Keeping the brand that they have worked so hard keep that going will be hard for a big company," he added.

Glasgow Times:

"From a customer point of view they all know it as the three different names of the three different restaurants and would expect to have that same dining experience.

"It's going to be really difficult for a new operator to come in and either keep that or do away with it and go down the line of what some pub groups do."

Mr Montgomery said he hoped the new owners would retain the name of a "long standing" business.

READ MOREInterview with Metropolitan owner and his plans for Ubiquitous Chip

Michael Horan, Managing Director of Metropolitan Pub Company, has suggested they will, in an interview for The Glasgow Times and stressed that they are run independently from Greene King. 

He said one management team would run all three restaurants and they were looking to "improve or enhance" what The Chip offers.

Glasgow Times:

"I would hope that they keep that iconic place for Glasgow," said Mr Montgomery. "Nobody wants to lose identity."

The couple have not discussed the reason for the sale publicly apart from to say that it was the "right time" and that they believed the restaurants were in "safe hands".

"We've already seen 20,000 businesses less, not just hospitality but across the board, in Scotland than there was pre-pandemic," said Mr Montgomery.

READ MORE: Glasgow restaurant Ubiquitous Chip sold to UK pub chain

"I think that shows the levels of stress, whether that's over recruitment or debt or customer confidence and keeping the business going.

"It's a different time.

"Whatever they [the previous owners] choose to do we would wish them well certainly.

"It's a really big change. It could be personal reasons as well, perhaps they want to retire."

Mr Montgomery said he had reluctantly sold The Townhead Hotel to a care home operator in March. 

"I was gutted but it was the right decision. The money was there and it allowed me to open up a new restaurant.

"I had three business sites before the pandemic and I've got rid of all three and bought one so I've downsized completely.

"When we opened up in July, things weren't going great so I handed The Crown Hotel[in Lockerbie] back in August/September and then handed The Jolly Harvester [in Dumfries] back in June."

He has opened a new restaurant in Annan called Our Place, retaining staff from The Townhead Hotel and said it was "fantastic news" that Greene King has said all existing staff at the three Glasgow restaurants are safe and the number of employees may actually be increased.

"I think that will be a real boost for whoever comes in to manage because those staff will know the running of the restaurants and will be able to guide a new operator in the way the customers who have supported the business would like."