Economy & Politics

Covid-19 puts the company canteen on a diet

Hit hard by the confinement, the catering sector is slow to raise its head. Blame it on teleworking and health measures that are slowing the recovery.

Hit hard by the confinement, the catering sector is slow to raise its head. Blame it on teleworking and health measures that are slowing the recovery.

(DH) – Direct consequence of teleworking and the health measures imposed by the pandemic, the few 150 company restaurants or institution ring the hollow. Reported to 36,000 companiess established across the country, this figure may seem insignificant, but on closer inspection, with Dussmann and Sodexo, it is the fourth and twelfth employer in the country that are, among others, concerned.

While more than six million meals were served every year before the health crisis, service providers in the catering sector are suffering. So much so that the latter expect an annual turnover cut by a large third, or even divided by half, compared to the year, for lack of outlets.

Today, teleworking, an essential instrument in the fight against the pandemic, appears to be the main driver of the recession corporate catering. The examples are legion. As proof, the canteen of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) nevertheless fed nearly 900 people every day until mid-March. It is now closed and has been since mid-March.

Of the 76 establishments managed by Restopolis in the country, 66 operate with staff from subcontracting companies. A significant financial windfall, since from 2005 to 2019, the number of meals distributed exploded by 230%.

The canteens of the European Investment Bank (EIB) offer even more telling figures. On the Kirchberg plateau, nearly 2,200 people were seated there daily. Closed in spring, the doors of the canteens will remain closed until further notice. “However, we have set up a take-out service,” admits an EIB spokesperson. Ditto for the CJEU.

These closures could mean a godsend for “classic” restaurants. This is only partly true. The Federation of Craftsmen (FDA), which brings together 48 catering companies in the country, agrees. The FDA even indicates that 58% of catering services recorded a decrease of 44% in May compared to last year. A hell of a setback for a growing sector since 2014.

“Reposition ourselves”

For Sodexo, heavyweight in the sector, optimism remains in order, even if the twelfth employer in the country, which has 70 clients in its portfolio, knows itself at a turning point in view of its 400 employees currently on short-time work.

“We are thinking about how we can reposition ourselves», Had indicated to LW Laurence Graff, the director of communications and marketing for the company. But the Bertrange-based company, like all players in the sector, does not have all the cards in hand since the decisions that will be taken depend on politicians.

Particularly with regard to the content of future agreements relating to teleworking – extended until December 31 – which will be signed with the border countries. “With a day of teleworking over a five-day week, that would still represent a loss of 20% of sales… ”, says one on the side of Sodexo.

If the take-out and theincreased services to nursing homes appear as alternative solutions, the post-covid impact will be felt in the long term. And companies in the catering sector will not be the only ones to have to reinvent themselves soon. Yesterday, the company canteen was still an argument in the recruitment strategy employees. Will it still be in a few months? The question remains open.


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