70% of hospitality businesses intend to reopen in June, despite 58% expecting to make a loss or just break even

Ricky O’Brien, foodservice director, BWG Foods, says it’s "absolutely critical that the government continues to find new ways to support the industry as it reshapes itself"

60% of hospitality businesses surveyed expect to experience difficulty in filling roles  

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25 May 2021 | 0

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Following a prolonged period of closure due to Covid-19 restrictions, 70% of hospitality businesses, including restaurants, cafes and pubs, intend to open to the public in June as soon as the phased reopening allows, with just 21% choosing to remain closed until indoor dining is permitted, according to a new survey carried out by BWG Foodservice, part of BWG Foods.

The survey, which was conducted between 7 – 17 May, found that almost a third (32%) of all respondents believe the current reopening plans are too cautious and slow paced, however the majority (61%) believe they are fair based on the current environment. Just 7% believe it is too much too soon.

Under the current plans, just 31% of hospitality businesses expect to perform well upon reopening, with 36% expecting to break even and a further 22% expecting to make a loss. According to respondents, the biggest immediate challenge facing hospitality businesses will be recruiting and reappointing staff ahead of the reopening, with 60% of businesses set to experience difficulty in filling roles. The second biggest challenge is expected to be operating successfully with reduced dining/sitting space, followed by maintaining social distancing amongst customers, and reconfiguring premises in time for the reopening.

Interestingly, nearly a quarter (24%) of businesses expect the earlier reopening of hospitality in Northern Ireland to pose a further challenge to their businesses.

According to respondents, hospitality businesses have, since the beginning of the pandemic, invested an average of €40,000 in facilities to facilitate government guidelines in relation to hygiene and social distancing. Similarly, 19% of businesses have applied for a grant under the Outdoor Dining Enhancement Scheme, with a further 43% planning to do so in the near future.

Overall, government supports were deemed as critical to the industry with 91% of all businesses surveyed believing government supports as being key to their survival since the beginning of the pandemic. In terms of future additional government initiatives that could support the hospitality industry going forward, 36% of respondents would like to see reduced VAT applied to hospitality offerings, while 34% of businesses would prefer to see salary subsidies (34%) introduced. Additional grant supports and incentives to encourage people back into the hospitality workforce were preferred by 21% and 5% of businesses respectively.

Ricky O’Brien, foodservice director, BWG Foods, highlighted the adaptability of Ireland’s hospitality industry, but said government supports were critical.

“When faced with the ultimate challenge, Ireland’s hospitality industry has proven itself to be highly adaptable, innovative and resilient,” O’Brien said. “Sadly, there will be a number of casualties from an industry perspective however, businesses that could, adapted their models to focus on takeaway options and the majority of those that couldn’t have spent months optimising their businesses, at significant expense, in preparation for a new world when they reopen.”

“While there is excitement throughout the industry ahead of the phased reopening, there are many challenges ahead, even if Ireland’s Covid-19 situation continues to improve, and it’s absolutely critical that the government continues to find new ways to support the industry as it reshapes itself,” O’Brien added. “The new reality is that consumer behaviour has drastically altered and hospitality businesses will need a host of supports, financial and other, to ensure they can adapt to a very new environment, preserving and futureproofing employment for hundreds of thousands of people up and down the country.”

Looking to the future, the overall outlook within the hospitality industry remains positive with 30% of businesses being very optimistic about the future of their businesses, and a further 55% being somewhat optimistic. Just 8% of businesses were not optimistic at all.

 

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