Economy & Politics

Horesca hopes for a good recipe for recovery

If they expect to be able to restart their activity in the near future, restaurateurs and coffee makers are asking themselves the question of the profitability of reopening in the face of constraints, still unclear, that the sector will now have to respect. The challenge is to find the right balance between the health of customers, employees … and businesses.

If they expect to be able to restart their activity in the near future, restaurateurs and coffee makers are asking themselves the question of the profitability of reopening in the face of constraints, still unclear, that the sector will now have to respect. The challenge is to find the right balance between the health of customers, employees … and businesses.

Uncertainties, fears and viability are currently on the menu in the hotel and catering sector (Horeca). Because if a cafes and restaurants reopen on June 2 has been mentioned, however, no date has been officially set by the government. To date, the vagueness also remains around the conditions for this recovery. Despite the uncertainties, one thing is certain: 2.240 establishments in the country will have to reopen their doors according to strict sanitary measures.

And if all the ingredients for recovery are not yet known, the sector is still preparing for it, like Christophe Schivre. From the first announcements of deconfinement by the Prime Minister, the manager of the Chapel table, located rue de Neudorf in Luxembourg, has decided to anticipate “too drastic measures” which could “stymie the recovery” by creating a grocery store, a menu offering take-out or home delivery dishes or by redeveloping the terrace. Despite everything, the restaurateur says he is worried.

Reassure clients

A feeling shared by many professionals in the sector, according to the Director General of Horesca. At the heart of their concerns: covering costs. Because there is no doubt that the resumption of activity will be smooth. “We will restart at 30, 40 or even 50% at most. It will be very low, but it’s a start, ”said François Koepp. However, he recalls, the rent will be “100%, not to mention the costs”. For him, the important thing therefore is to “find the right mix between health, safety and business viability”.

So to bring consumers back, the National Federation of Hoteliers, Restaurateurs and Cafetiers in Luxembourg has made a guide of recommendations available to professionals in the sector. Without forgetting the launch of a new label called “Safe to serve”. A large-scale marketing campaign with a “big budget” is also being prepared with a main objective: to reassure customers. “We want to show that the maximum is done to offer them a good time,” explains François Koepp.

Because the restart of cafeterias and restaurateurs is inseparable from the return of customers for the sector, which has been almost completely stopped since mid-March. A month later, the president of Horesca, Alain Rix, was already warning that nearly one in five companies was at risk of going out of business. In early June, the doors of the country’s cafes and restaurants will remain closed for almost two and a half months.

But for his part, François Koepp believes at the beginning of the week that the situation will be “surely less serious” than initially planned even if there will still be “certainly a little breakage”. The director of Horesca, however, says he is confident and, in particular, “if the future state aid instruments are well oriented”. In other words, the conditions for the recovery announced by the government will be decisive for a sector employing nearly 20,000 workers already particularly affected by the crisis.

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