Curry Houses Warned To “Innovate Or Die”

Ajmal Mushtaq, the owner of Britain biggest takeaway restaurant, Mushtaqs in Hamilton in Scotland, has warned that over a third of the country’s independent takeaway restaurants will disappear from our high street within five years.

Despite the dire warning, Mushtaq, a former City management consultant, remains remarkably upbeat about the prospects for the takeaway sector.

The sector as a whole is thriving as more customers are ordering takeaways, than ever before, according to Mushtaq, who predicts there will be a huge shake out, which will see many of our long-established favourite curry house go out of business in the coming years.

He cites multiple reasons for the demise of these family-owned business.  The shortage of chefs and rising rents and business rates have been well reported.  Many curry house owners find that their own children eschew the opportunity to take over the reins of the family concern, in favour of a professional career in accountancy, the law or medicine.  Long, antisocial hours deter many of the younger generation are turning their back on the hospitality sector – despite the opportunities for intelligent, ambitious graduates

“The main reason these businesses will fail will be their inability to keep ahead of the technological advances in this sector. The rise of aggregators such as Just Eat has shed a positive light on this multibillion pound industry. This is now attracting hundreds of millions of pounds of new investment into this sector from companies such as Deliveroo & Uber Eats. It is going to be hard for a traditional operator to compete on technology. The problem will be further compounded by the rise of dark kitchens owned by the likes of Deliveroo. These kitchens are usually set in industrial estates that operate multiple food brands from one site

“ it’s only a matter of time before someone launches a serious Indian curry high street chain. I predict it will be one of the larger online aggregators, UberEATS, Just Eat or Deliveroo. And they will replace the small independent with management, slick marketing and consumer relevant technology.

“These companies don’t need two takeaways on every high street. They need one industrial kitchen, on an out of town business estate, catering for all popular cuisines.”

This said, Mushtaq urges takeaways to get into bed with the aggregators, because “they are the future”, but insists that operators build their own customer database and engage with it.  Mushtaq has a 12,000 strong database with which it communicates on a weekly basis.

Confident in the strength of the sector, Mushtaqs is planning to expand the business. A major announcement is expected in a month.