By Chris Creed, Managing director, Creed Foodservice
This year hasn’t been all bad. The tough economic climate has shown how resilient our sector is and it’s impressive how businesses have managed to adapt. We operate in a diverse industry servicing everything from care homes to hospitals to schools, pubs and hotels. And whilst the cost sector has continued to turn in consistent trade, performance has been hit harder in the profit sector requiring imagination to win through.
That has been seen through the deals that have sprung up as operators fight for their trade: the £4.99 carvery, the £29-a-night boutique hotel, the meal deals. Innovative managers have come up with deals for the consumer that have meant continued trade and increased footfall.
BEST DEALS ARE THE BIGGEST WINNERS
So there’s much to celebrate about the business we’re in. Great people, great ideas and an impulse driven market we’re lucky that UK consumers can’t resist a bargain.
Of course margins have taken a hit and that’s been felt across the industry. Consumers are canny and competition is strong so the best deals are the winners. We’ve all looked at how we can reduce costs and add value throughout the supply chain. This concentration on margins is a positive move and we’ll emerge from the recession leaner and fitter.
On the manufacturing side, those who have succeeded this year are the innovators who have anticipated consumer demand and moved quickly to meet it. In many cases these are smaller manufacturers who have been able to accelerate product development and react faster to market demands. Consumer habits have changed and are likely to stay changed. Pubs have suffered, particularly with lunchtime trade but coffee shops, especially those which have diversified their food offering, are riding high. I admire the businesses which have been fleet of foot and adapted well.
FIT FOR THE FUTURE
More good news is the focus on credit control and the need to manage our cash better. This has produced business management models that are more robust and will be more resilient to change. That’s a strong foundation for the future.
Underlying all this change has been the way in which staff have reacted. Seeing the UK economy spiral into free fall has kindled a sensible response. Staff have taken on board the situation, the need for change and the challenge to established habits and they have risen admirably to that challenge. This is something the UK should be proud of and we should all celebrate.