Date22 Feb 2021
CategoryAccounting, Business Services, Audit & assurance
The 11th March 2020 was a day that many won’t forget – COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organisation. Nearly a year on and whilst Coronavirus continues to touch aspects of our daily lives – the hospitality industry has arguably been one of the sectors worst affected, with most pubs, clubs and restaurants currently closed across Britain for a third time.
Nataniel Martinez, Managing Director of The Custom House, Cardiff said: “The pandemic has caused great challenges for the hospitality industry. Constant uncertainty in regards to whether we are open or closed and with regulations that seemingly differ from month to month making trading nearly impossible. In terms of government help we’ve been fortunate enough to have been successful in our applications for ERF 2 and ERF 3 grants. The furlough scheme has also been warmly welcomed and has enabled us to retain the majority of our staff.
The future for ourselves is still looking uncertain, we still have no opening date in sight and fear it could be May until we return to the restaurants. In the meantime more government support would be welcomed to see us through the winter.”
Mark Holden, Company Director of Inn Cornwall said: “At the beginning of March, before the pandemic was declared, I was part of a focus group to consider the impact of Coronavirus – unaware of what was ahead. Feeling inspired, and slightly scared, we [Inn Cornwall] worked on looking at ways of working differently with the help of a variety of different partners. It was clear that it would be difficult for us to utilise the Furlough Scheme due to having to pause staffing for a minimum of three weeks, which was just not viable in our sector, so instead, we launched a new takeaway and doorstep delivery service, Pub Grub. Our aim was to pivot and deliver hearty hot meals to communities across Cornwall, and thanks to our team and partners, even during lockdown three, Cornish residents still have the appetite for it!”
Mark and the team at Inn Cornwall turned 72 team members into key workers, from logistics managers, drivers, chefs and phone operators, to get the service off the ground, and to avoid as many redundancies as possible.
Commenting on government support, Mark added: “Although the VAT reduction has given us some breathing space, 20% VAT, 100% business rates & rent are all set to be reinstated at the end of March, meanwhile operational restrictions look to remain. This will shove the hospitality industry even closer to that cliff edge. I’d love to see more clarity from the government in terms of next steps, as it places pressure on a multitude of avenues and individual; from suppliers and the wider supply chain, to our increased wastage and most importantly, the mental health of those affected – hospitality seems to be being used as a gateway to universal credit without a long term strategy.”
James Dobson, Partner at Azets commented: “Whilst various initiatives and support packages have been launched to retain jobs and keep businesses afloat, the future for the sector remains very uncertain with business owners having no idea when they may be able to reopen. Many restaurants have initiated take-away services during lockdown which has allowed them to tick over; however, income is a fraction of what would normally be achieved.
Business owners are currently reliant on their savings and support funding to keep their businesses afloat. In order for the sector to be sustained greater targeted funding and support will be required.”
The call comes after the Welsh Government’s Sector Specific Grant opened in January 2021, focusing on hospitality and tourism businesses. There was incredible demand in applications, highlighting the need for further support.