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Living with lockdown - D&D London

Published:  04 May, 2020

Diana Rollan, group head of beverage at D&D London, gives Lisa Riley a glimpse of what may lay ahead for restaurants when the on-trade starts to reopen. 

"We are currently working on our strategy plan, with not much info on when government is planning to lift the lockdown for the hospitality industry, we can only speculate at this point. When re-opening first takes place, it will likely come at a time when some degree of social distancing is still in place, which most certainly will be translated into a reduction in our number of covers allowed per restaurant. 

"This will affect our revenue significantly, so in order to drive footfall to our venues we will need to ensure we actively promote our venues, focusing on guest experience, ensuring we gain the customers confidence back, so providing best service experience will be paramount. Trust and communication with customers will be a must, we need to regain the loyalty of our customers not only with the level of our food or range of drinks but also now with the level of cleanliness and hygiene measures.

"Business will need to ensure staff are trained correctly on any health and hygiene standards, so customers can feel secure when they go out, at the same time also ensuring the protection of our own staff. Increasing hand washing, installing sanitizers across key points in venues and ensuring customers see a high visibility of cleanliness when back in operation, especially in bathrooms, tables and bars, will be essential.

"We don’t know how customer behaviour will change but we will need to ensure limiting guest exposure to certain items where a risk of cross-contamination may be possible too, things like salt and pepper on a table may no longer be possible, so we will need to look at individual prepacked items.

"Most probably we will need to simplify our offering too, go back to basics in our selection and range, and ensure cost are controlled without compromising on the quality, now more than ever we need to work closely with our suppliers, reviewing existing processes and ensuring our business is cost effective.

"We will need to listen to new customers' behaviours, in order to meet their demands, be agile and support with marketing campaigns and better experiences.

"With the government suggesting there will be some social distancing rules in place after lockdown is lifted, there will be a decline of our revenues for a period of time, with some businesses facing a decline of at least 50-60% in the first quarter after reopening.

"It will be difficult for certain businesses to survive, having to keep paying full salaries, bills and rent and unfortunately there will be some companies that may not be able to overcome this hostile environment and be forced to close. But for other businesses this will open new possibilities, with home deliveries for example, so there will be opportunities even during these challenging times.

"Those who remain open will be forced to be alert and learn to adapt rapidly in order to keep their business afloat, keeping always a close eye on countries that have already come out of lockdown.

"I have seen many great initiatives during these challenging times that reassure me that the hospitality industry will get through this. Now it is time to work very closely with our suppliers and support each other, if we want to overcome this. It may take us some time to bounce back but we will."