By Sanj Mahal, Co-owner of ANDCO (www.andco.life)
“With high fixed costs, revenue concentrated around a few peak hours in the week, and rapidly changing consumer preferences, many town centre food and drink outlets were already facing serious challenges prior to COVID-19.
“Now, as we question whether town centre working and commuting will ever return to ‘normal’, it’s clear that every- one based in the centre, rom independent coffee shops, big chains such as Costa, grab and go venues like Greggs all the way up to premium restaurants will all be seriously impacted if they don’t innovate.
“But there are a few interesting ways they can adapt and change to maximise their business.Take a look at the boom of dark kitchens, face- less restaurants where food is produced feels more like manufactured, a conveyor belt and not consumed — due to the rising popularity of food delivery platforms like Uber Eats, Deliveroo and Doordash. Adopting a ‘dark’ strategy in which grab-and-go food is produced helps to attract new customers among locals, and greatly improve revenue streams in off-peak hours yet creating a genuine face and personality to the brand.
“Venues should also consider pop-up partnerships with new offerings that haven’t been considered before. Retail or catering pop-ups within hotel lobby areas could be a great way to capture footfall and spend.
“In addition, hotels and restaurants can also hire out their private dining rooms or spacious lobbies to businesses wishing to have face-to- face meetings without a permanent office.This allows operators to optimise their space, especially in quieter periods. Rather than the hospitality industry thinking purely about F&B, it’s time to start thinking about their space as an asset and how it could be used.This is exactly what AndCo’s technology allows the hospitality sector to do – create new and innovative revenue streams from existing space.
“For town centre outlets, the pandemic presents itself as the ultimate opportunity to rethink the way they operate.” The high street is not dead,WFH is the new living at work, and many will be motivated to leave the house to be social. Every survey conducted during lockdown pointed to the fact that everyone wanted to support their local neighbourhoods. All these venues offer the customers the ability to create their own community within and around them – it’s time to convert locals into a loyal customer base.