Industry Update
Opinion Article29 April 2020

Always look on the bright side

HOSPA CEO Jane Pendlebury reflects on a sector which has pulled together to face a bright future.

By Jane Pendlebury, CEO at HOSPA

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Pendlebury

Thank goodness we are an industry of positive people. Despite the doom and gloom, most people that contact the HOSPA office remain upbeat, trying to find their way through the uncertainty. The only certainty we do have is that the outlook will change daily and the Government will direct us based on facts and figures, which also change daily.

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The devastation to the industry we love is like nothing ever known before. Whilst that seems like a sentence full of hyperbole, we sadly know it to be true. Kate Nicholls and the team at UK Hospitality (UKH) are doing a sterling job at representing us and lobbying the Government on our behalf. Currently, they are proposing an extension of the furlough scheme for hospitality. As we were one of the first industries to suffer losses and will no doubt be one of the last to return to profitability, the support is an absolute necessity to secure longterm success. To aid cash flow, UKH are requesting that the Government consider the following:

  • Extending the legal right to deferment
  • Protection from lease forfeiture for 9 months
  • Improved access to capital to fund the restart

Please take a look at the re-opening articles by both Howard Field and Chris Cowls with Mike O'Mahoney with advice on re-opening. UKH have also requested support with insurance claims. I have heard the most amazing excuses for not paying out which would be funny if it wasn't so tragic. They are also suggesting support on restoring consumer confidence thereby stimulating demand - perhaps a VAT cut. And finally a strategic reset, asking the Government to overhaul outdated business regulations. For example, the Landlord Tenant Act; State Aid rules, Insolvency laws and the crippling cost of business rates. We support UKH in all of this and thank them for all their efforts.

There is no shying away from the facts. Many hospitality businesses will not survive, and those that do will find the re-opening tough. Attitudes will have changed. It's hard to imagine someone travelling to a town or city centre on a busy train, to visit a crowded theatre, eat dinner in a busy restaurant, then stay in a hotel room and share food with other guests from the breakfast buffet. It's not going to happen for a long time. But we owe it to ourselves to encourage staycations, to gain guest trust through sharing our higher than ever cleaning standards and to welcome what business we can get with a smile in the certain knowledge that one day we will celebrate a full recovery.

We will do all we can at HOSPA to share best practices and offer all the practical help we can. Please do keep in touch with us. As Dale Carnegie has been recorded as saying, "Important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all." I find inspiration from the rainbows in windows, the consideration of our fellow humans whilst on a walk, the beauty of our surroundings - even more beautiful than we perhaps realised before we had heard of COVID-19 - and at 8pm every Thursday evening when I continue to surprise myself at the depth of my emotional reaction each week. We are applauding all our key workers of course, but it's more than that, it is the connection with our neighbours and the knowledge that we are doing this along with the rest of the country for all the right reasons. I have hope.

Hope that a postCOVID-19 world could bring with it some positives, at least from an economic stance. As the rainbow eludes to, and once the storm has passed so will our supply chains become more localised, with both businesses and families continuing to turn to their nearby markets, favouring locally-sourced produce. Many high-end restaurants have extolled the virtues of local produce for years. Has COVID-19 broken down the global supply chains, allowing more of us to see the benefits of sourcing closer to home, even if that may be at a higher cost?

History teaches us that a period of boom has followed each war, with those once fearful of shopping shrouded by tragedy, soon eager to spend and rejoice in the 'new world'. Can the same be said for us now, following this global crisis? There is a lot of support being offered at the moment, both by the Government and fellow hospitality professionals. Reach out for it, stay healthy and keep the faith!

Jane Pendlebury

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