Quarter of operators have diversified to find new income streams


Around a third of hospitality business owners remain confident their businesses will survive the outbreak, with a similar percentage hopeful they can thrive after lockdown.

The survey of 770 restaurateurs and publicans by data specialist Caterlyst, found that 25% have made “radical” changes to their business models, as they diversify and innovate to find new income streams.

14% of outlets questioned had introduced a takeaway option since lockdown, whilst another 9% were providing a local delivery service for a range of menu and beverage items.

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Other innovations include the opening of drive-through-style food services and even restyling pubs into village shops, stocking essential, hard to find products, to serve their local communities.

Just under half of respondents plan to continue these new services after lockdown, demonstrating that this quick innovation has longevity for operators.

Lockdown has offered others the opportunity to refresh and renovate their premises, according to the report.

It said some have taken this beyond aesthetics, revising their business plans, suppliers and staffing structures with the aim to resume business with a more profitable approach and a strong marketing strategy.

Stewart Sims, CEO of Caterlyst, said: “It seems that many pubs and restaurants have just cause to be concerned about what the future holds unless their regular business can resume soon, or a more accessible package of financial support is delivered to them.

In the meantime, innovation and diversification may hold the answer to keeping these businesses afloat until – and possibly even after – lockdown is lifted.”

The research, which was carried out in April, revealed that 70% of businesses questioned had yet to even apply for a business interruption loan scheme (CBILS).

Of those that had, respondents were highly critical of the process with long waiting times, poor communications, a lack of response from the banks and a general reluctance to consider a loan. This has led to an overall suspicion of the banks’ motives.

Similarly, for the 55% that had applied for business interruption insurance, just 3% of respondents had achieved any success, with many expressing negative comments about the process, the response and the immediate refusals.

Many respondents rely on local and national suppliers for stock and raw ingredients, and the amount of support on offer for them varies.

Many local suppliers find themselves in a similar position to publicans and restaurateurs but despite this, they have been flexible in deferring payments and effective on delivery of products.

41% of survey respondents reported that their suppliers had been beneficial with their support, although 23% had received no help and some even cited instances of inflexible and uncompromising suppliers.

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Andrew Seymour

The author Andrew Seymour

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