Most Hospitality Businesses In Ireland Intend To Reopen In June, Survey Finds
A majority of hospitality businesses (70%) in Ireland, including restaurants, cafes and pubs, intend to reopen in June, a new survey conducted by BWG Foodservice has revealed.
Around 21% of hospitality businesses, including restaurants, cafes and pubs, opted to remain closed until indoor dining is permitted.
Under the current reopening plans, just 31% of hospitality businesses expect to perform well upon reopening, with 36% expecting to break even and 22% expecting to make a loss, the study noted.
Almost a third (32%) of the respondents consider the current reopening plans too cautious and slow-paced. A majority (61%) believe that these plans are fair based on the current environment. Only 7% believe it is too much too soon.
The survey, conducted between 7–17 May, found that the overall outlook within the hospitality industry was positive, with 30% of businesses being very optimistic about their future.
Around 55% were somewhat optimistic, while 8% of businesses were not optimistic at all.
'Adaptable, Innovative And Resilient'
Commenting on the findings, Ricky O’Brien, foodservice director at BWG Foods, said, “When faced with the ultimate challenge, Ireland’s hospitality industry has proven itself to be highly adaptable, innovative and resilient.
“Sadly, there will be a number of casualties from an industry perspective; however, businesses that could, adapted their models to focus on takeaway options and the majority of those that couldn’t have spent months optimising their businesses, at significant expense, in preparation for a new world when they reopen.”
Respondents believe that recruiting and reappointing staff ahead of the reopening is the most significant challenge facing the sector, with 60% of businesses set to experience difficulty in filling roles.
Other challenges include operating successfully with reduced dining/sitting space, maintaining social distancing amongst customers, and reconfiguring premises in time for the reopening.
In addition, 24% of respondents see the earlier reopening of hospitality in Northern Ireland as an additional challenge to their businesses.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, hospitality businesses have invested an average of €40,000 in facilities to implement Government guidelines about hygiene and social distancing, the study noted.
O’Brien added, “While there is excitement throughout the industry ahead of the phased reopening, there are many challenges ahead, even if Ireland’s COVID-19 situation continues to improve, and it’s absolutely critical that the Government continues to find new ways to support the industry as it reshapes itself.
“The new reality is that consumer behaviour has drastically altered, and hospitality businesses will need a host of supports, financial and other, to ensure they can adapt to a very new environment, preserving and future proofing employment for hundreds of thousands of people up and down the country.”
Around 19% of businesses have applied for a grant under the Outdoor Dining Enhancement Scheme, with a further 43% planning to do so in the near future, the survey found.
Government support was deemed as critical to the industry, with 91% of all businesses surveyed believing it as the key to their survival since the beginning of the pandemic.
In terms of future additional Government initiatives, 36% of respondents would like to see reduced VAT applied to hospitality offerings. In comparison, 34% of businesses would prefer to see the introduction of salary subsidies.
Additional grant supports and incentives to encourage people back into the hospitality workforce were preferred by 21% and 5% of businesses, respectively, BWG added.