19 May 2022

Opinion from Adrian Leopard & Co

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“Eat in” – the new normal post-pandemic. Order your takeaway here
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“Eat in” – the new normal post-pandemic. Order your takeaway here

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This is a good way for restaurants and pubs to hedge their bets for the future

If there is one habit which the pandemic and associated lockdowns has changed, it is “eating in”. That is basically because there has been no option while restaurants and pubs have been closed.

Getting a takeaway has always been a popular move amongst the British people – they can have something they do not usually cook, “Mum” or other meal provider can have an evening off and it just makes for an easy evening. However, whereas families would at one time perhaps go for a takeaway or “chippy tea” once a week, the habit has become more frequent. What has brought this about?

It used to be said that the invention of the fax machine by the Japanese was born out of necessity. When the western world was using telex to get its messages around the brave new world of international business, the Japanese mode of writing did not lend itself to the use of machines like telex; they wanted to continue to use their pictogram style of language which meant sending an image of it, hence the fax machine. Of course all of this is a long time ago now but this is just what has happened in the takeaway food sector.

Demand for takeaway food has grown significantly during the pandemic and it continues to grow. As a result many restaurants and pubs have adapted their businesses to be able to cater for this new demand and above all, what has been needed is a mode of delivery. That too has been satisfied with companies like Deliveroo and Eber Eats to name but two. Delivery businesses now cover an incredible percentage of the population so the second basic requirement has also been met.

However, and there is always a “but”, the delivery companies do not cover 100% of the population and notably the more rural areas do not have these facilities available. At the same time, the groups of businesses which have really concentrated most on developing a takeaway style of business all tend to be in urban areas so perhaps these businesses and the big delivery outfits are a match made in heaven?

So where does that leave the independent operator, the local pub or country restaurant which would also like to take advantage of this growing market? The answer is they need to consider their best options as regards delivery because this is a fundamental part of the overall service.

We did address this issue once before many months ago because if properly managed, it is probably a more economical proposition for a business to operate its own delivery service, as indeed many do and in the country a takeaway outfit may have no choice anyway. There is an option to use local taxi services but that would require a special deal. The big issue is “what does it cost?” With a company like Deliveroo, it is a straightforward matter to get their tariff. You can then see how much of your meal profit is being absorbed by the delivery costs; you may decide to charge part or the whole of the cost to the customer but experience suggests that this will not be so popular, whereas a standard delivery charge of say £3 and order might be accepted by customers without demur. Or you may decide to build the delivery cost into the price of the meal and be done with it. At least then you can boldly say “delivered to your door free of charge”.

This of course is all an accountancy exercise – costing being one of the most important needs in a catering business. It certainly should not be stabbed at and guessing is none too clever either – you could come in for a shock. If in doubt get professional advice but you may be surprised what good value it can be having your own motorbike and rider on hand during fixed hours to deal with your deliveries for you. Needless to say it will be greatly affected by volume.

There is no doubt that the takeaway sector is going to grow and there is nothing wrong with that; habits have started to be formed. In addition it must be accepted that confidence in dining out will not be as high in the future as it used to be. Already there are restraints on people going out to dine because of drinking and driving so expansion of your catering side to provide this service can only be a good thing and now that it has really started to take off, it is worth making it a permanent feature in your business because it will then act as a hedge in the event of further lockdowns in the future, whether because of Covid-19 or any other cause. And it is worth doing it for now because with the best will in the world the present restrictions will remain to some extent for many months yet.

Adrian Leopard 18-02-21

Photo Erik Mclean

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Adrian Leopard & Company is the trading name of Alderney Offshore Ltd, a company registered in Alderney, Channel Islands number 1220.

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Registered Office Seldomin, Longis Road, Alderney GY9 3YB.

Adrian Leopard & Co is represented in the UK by 3CL (UK) Ltd trading as Adrian Leopard Associates.

Telephone enquiries may be made on 08449-4-08449 or 01684-230360.

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