Much of our work is centred across Europe, the UAE and beyond. Prior to Covid-19, our summer was booked with upcoming projects in Portugal, Trinidad and Tobago, and the UAE. We felt the impact before the UK went into lock-down, but we were uncertain what this meant for our business until things started happening here and the government started to impose closures and announce any funding schemes for employees, so for us it was like a domino-effect in slow motion.
Taking into account the nature of our business, we expect things to take a long time to recover with the hospitality industry being severely disrupted and travel uncertainty. We normally get booked by clients up to six months in advance and we now don’t have anything booked for the remainder of the year, unless we can resume contracts that should have been underway this summer. The fallout from Covid-19 for us and many others may well and truly last years.
We have had to adapt pretty swiftly and show flexibility in how we work. Many of our meetings and ‘tastings’ take place via Zoom rather than onsite meetings and training; with a client in China for example we have created video content alongside recipes packs to implement the menus we have designed and created for their new openings. As the restrictions are beginning to ease, we are able to conduct some socially distanced tastings with an international client’s UK-based team here in London.
We are facing challenges with the unavailability or lack of continuity of food products from suppliers, and pastry equipment such as moulds, many of which are imported from France and Europe. However, we’ve had fantastic support from some of our suppliers such as Ritter Courivaud and Home Chocolate Factory, who have gone out of their way to make things possible.
We furloughed the majority of our staff as soon as we could and we luckily aren’t under pressure from landlords as we do not own any premises; additionally we have been able to get access to the government bounce back loan to assist with short term cashflow.
We have used this time to re-think and consolidate our plans as a company. As well as offering a full-service restaurant and hospitality consultancy service, we now have the ability to offer services that we always wanted to put never had the time to set out a strategy including photography and mixology/bar services.
Just as we saw the pandemic heading our way, we now see what our international neighbours are doing and how they are beginning to re-open and mould themselves into a ‘new normality’. We have hope. We have no doubt it will be hard work and it might take some time, but we’ll all get there together.
By Graham Hornigold and Heather Kaniuk