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Curry Trade Body Attacks Delivery Companies For ‘Killing Local Restaurants’

The Asian Catering Federation [ACF] has criticised restaurant takeaway delivery platforms for undermining the hospitality sector, and in turn High Street trade in general, ahead of a presentation to leading chefs and restaurants at the House of Lords.

ACF committee member, chef Binod Baral, a Goodwill Ambassador for the Gurkha Centre in London, said: “Delivery companies don’t need a multitude of restaurants on the high street – a single dark kitchen cooking a variety of cuisines on an industrial estate suits their needs.”

As many retail outlets have migrated to the net and abandoned High Street locations, hospitality businesses are now prime drivers of customer footfall to town centres. But with restaurants, bars, restaurants and takeaways hit hard by rising costs and hard-pressed customers suffering from the cost-of-living crisis, many once thriving High Streets are resembling ghost towns with boarded up windows and ubiquitous ‘To Let’ signs.

Former restaurateur turned hospitality consultant Rajesh Suri (ex Tamarind Collection and Grand Trunk Road) said:

“Delivery service platforms have become multi million pound industries with huge profits, as our small takeaways and restaurants businesses faced with commission charges of up to 35%, are closing. This is driving down food quality as business owners are using cheaper ingredients in an attempt to make a profit.”

Just Eat has recently ended sponsorship awards programmes of the ACF and several other hospitality organisations.

“We have been extremely grateful for Just Eat’s generous support for our campaigns that have helped raise culinary standards across the sector, but negative mumblings from our members about ‘exorbitant’ commission charges, with a focus on prices rather than quality, have been growing ever louder.

The Federation is also calling on customers to contact favourite takeaways directly and cut out the middleman.

In common with several fine dining restaurants forced to close their doors during the Covid lockdown, The Cook’s Tale (formerly The Ambrette) in Canterbury, had to offer takeaways for the first time.

The Cook’s Tales owner-chef Dev Biswal said:
“Becoming a takeaway business suddenly from scratch, we had to create a whole new menu, with little other option than to sign up to Just Eat if we wanted to survive. But the commission payment accounted for a third of our gross profit margin.”

At the special awards lunch at the House of Lords hosted by Lord Kamall, the ACF will step up its encouragement for members to take responsibility for their own marketing, build customer databases, communicate directly, fulfil their own orders and build customer loyalty.

The Federation will present the winners of its recent Asian & Oriental Chef Awards live cook off competition and the restaurants featured in its new guide.

A spokesperson for Just eat said:
“Just Eat is only successful if our restaurant partners are successful and we have a strong record of helping the sector prosper – in fact, along with our network of 88,000 restaurant and retail partners, Just Eat contributes £3.5 billion to the UK economy each year, supporting 100,000 jobs across the UK.

“Our commission rates are aligned with the value we provide to our partners – whether through access to more customers online that they may not otherwise have been able to reach, or our investment in technology and marketing to help businesses raise their profile, attract more orders and operate more efficiently.

“We’re committed to adding value to our partners’ businesses on a daily basis, and many grow and flourish through working with Just Eat.”