Pubs and restaurants are currently one of the hardest hit sectors, but as elsewhere in the economy, technology is lending a hand, allowing savvy entrepreneurs to pivot operations and alleviate the damage. Many are offering take-aways or even converting to grocery stores. This ability to re-invent and hence maintain at least a “tick-over” rate of income reduces the level of financial support required whilst businesses are unable to operate in their primary guise.
This is doubly important given that many businesses in the hospitality sector are finding it less than straightforward to secure debt, partly due to the uncertainty surrounding re-opening timeframes and expected operating restrictions.
With much of the hospitality industry closed, some B2B focused suppliers are now selling direct to the consumer – All those steaks and vegetables need to go somewhere. Likewise the big brands are looking for direct to market solutions. Cafe Nero is now pushing the sale of its beans as a delivery service.
Customers’ desire to support local establishments and the reduced risk for consumers from shopping at smaller, less crowded locations combine to make a compelling short term business case for establishments opting to become local “pop-up” shops.
How are businesses able to make this swift change in model? Technology is a clear driver – think how much more difficult it would have been for all of us had something like Covid-19 hit, say, 20 years ago. Technology businesses like StarStock, a wholesale ordering platform, have also pivoted their approach, supporting their customers through setting up mypubshop.com, a “not for profit” initiative. This enables its trading partners to quickly set up and interlink the supply chain from customer “click and collect” and home ordering through to source and supply. Having rapidly gained traction, it is increasingly seen as part of the solution, garnering support from well recognised brands.
Mutual support is an undercurrent in much of this pivoting and, whilst this is to some extent driven by self-interest, we are seeing businesses largely recognising the long game isn’t best won through short term profiteering or inflexibility. We all rely on other parties within the economic system whether as customers or suppliers, directly or indirectly, and help, particularly in times of crisis and supported by the community ethic of facing a common “enemy” is likely to be remembered long after the current crisis is over.
Like all, we at Polestar hope that things turn around soon and move to what ever the new normal may be. In the meantime, it is good to see positive news of brands and entrepreneurial flair combining to help alleviate some of the current problems and hopefully form the foundation for future prosperity when things return to normal.
Pubs, restaurants and cafés may have been forced to close, but they’re not giving up. Across the UK, outlets are switching to become pop-up grocery stores for their local communities