Wagamama could take up to nine months to reopen entire estate

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Wagamama six to nine months to reopen restaurant estate after Coronavirus lockdown launches click-and-collect

Related tags: delivery, Restaurant, Wagamama, Coronavirus

Wagamama CEO Emma Woods has said it could take 'six or nine months' for the chain's restaurant estate to fully reopen.

Speaking to the PA news agency​, Woods said the pan-Asian chain is preparing for a “new normal” in customer habits and is set to launch its first ever collection service for customers.

Last month, Wagamama announced plans to reopen 67 sites nationwide for delivery​, having shuttered its entire estate in March due to the Coronavirus lockdown.

The company has now said it is planning to expand its delivery operations to 100 restaurants nationwide, and that all sites will eventually offer a click-and-collect service as well.

Wagamama said the new collection service is one of “many innovations” it will use to serve customers safely as it adapts to current social distancing guidelines.

Using the click-and-collect service, customers will be able pre-order meals and also select a collection time for their takeaway so as to avoid queuing at the restaurant.

Regarding Wagamama's forthcoming plans, Woods told PA​ the company is “not in a race” with its rivals to reopen restaurants rapidly, stressing that diners will only be welcomed to dine in restaurants when it is “absolutely safe”.

She said the business is working towards July for the first reopenings, but stressed that its schedule will be dictated by “safety and feedback from staff and customers”.

“It’s important to be clear that this is not a race.

“Our priority has been safety throughout this process and that won’t change.

“Like our delivery operations, we’d expect to start a small trial and open in a phased way but don’t want to have false start by rushing.

“We hope we all of our Wagamamas will be open in the next six or nine months but it is very early days.”

While there is currently no official date set for when pubs and restaurants across the country will be able to reopen, Government guidance published last month​ suggested that some hospitality businesses could be allowed to reopen on 4 July; although it is understood ministers are now hoping to accelerate​ that plan.

Woods added that not all sites will be able to reopen under current two-metre social distancing guidelines, with a small number of restaurants “too small” for current guidance.

“The difference between using two metres rather than one metre is catastrophic to the industry," she said.

“We are encouraged that the Government has started to talk about the possibility of one metre distancing, in line with the World Health Organisation.”

As well as targeting an earlier reopening date, it was also reported earlier today (8 June) that Prime Minister Boris Johnson is believed to have asked Business Secretary Alok Sharma to make the case for cutting the UK’s social distancing rule from two metres to just one.

Related topics: Business & Legislation

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