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Could the Olympics hold the key to a prosperous 2012 for restaurants?

By Luke Nicholls , 06-Jan-2012
Last updated on 06-Jan-2012 at 16:51 GMT

With a bumper year packed full of iconic, once-in-a-lifetime events including the London 2012 Olympics, the London 2012 Festival and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, the UK restaurant industry will be hoping to capitalise. But just how big an impact will these events have, and will they actually lead to an increase in profits?

Following on from Wednesday’s news article which highlighted the various challenges ahead for the country’s 260,000 eating out establishments , restaurateurs have been in touch with BigHospitality to give their views on the year ahead.

Giraffe

“2012 will be a tough year for everyone,” admitted Julliette Joffe, co-owner of fast-casual restaurant chain Giraffe. “We will continue what we do well, while making sure we have all our bases covered in the run up to the 2012 Olympics.

“We recognise that certain sites will be busier during the 2012 Olympics, however we're not predicting all London sites will show an increase in profits. We will of course be doing marketing and good value deals in the lead up to, and during, the event.”

This apprehension over the financial impact of the London 2012 Olympics was apparent across the hospitality industry with Jonathan Raggett, managing director of Red Carnation hotels, warning that the Games could in fact lead to a drop in hotel occupancy figures .

The Blue Elephant

Karl Steppe is co-founder of Thai restaurant Blue Elephant, which last month was forced to relocate to Imperial Wharf after 25 years on Fulham’s Broadway . Steppe is one who does believe that this year’s event will have positive repercussions for restaurants in London.

“Both the Jubilee and the Olympics should have a positive effect on the industry for those based in London and around Olympic sites,” he said. “I do think it will continue to be a challenging year for the whole industry, however I think successful restaurants will continue to be successful.”

Industry experts’ top tips for a successful 2012

  • “Keeping on top of things – clever buying – running tight ships – and the most important thing is to continue to offer great food and service at affordable prices.” – Julliette Joffe, Giraffe.
  • “We will be focusing on quality, not just discounts, as people choose more carefully where to spend their hard earned.” - Chris Rawlison, head chef at The Red Cat in Chorley (via Twitter).
  • “Certainly don’t cut your staff right to the bone for the Olympics. Make sure you have enough people working for you and if it means looking at changing shifts or recruiting more people then do that to make sure you’re covered and can keep the business ticking over.” - Ian Lacey, market analyst, Elliott Marketing & PR.
  • “The businesses that don’t embrace change are those that will suffer this year, but outlets that adapt to the demands of the new consumer by offering something different, focussing on good quality for a reasonable price, are those that will survive the year ready to focus on growth when consumer demand improves.” - Foodservice consultancy Horizons’ managing director Peter Backman.

For a comprehensive guide giving you everything you need to know during the London 2012 Olympics take a look at BigHospitality’s four-part Planning for the Olympics special feature .

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