Opinion: Safeguarding a healthy high street

Hobart believes its flexible finance packages will help dealers sell to independent operators.

Tim Bender, sales director at Hobart Warewashing UK believes that financial flexibility on catering equipment can help independent restaurants especially, with dealers providing a vital link in this chain:

Over the past few years, it would be fair to say that conditions for the independent eating out sector have been challenging at best.

For many, survival rates have been low, with those who have gone to the wall blaming a number of contributory factors, including, high rents; business rates; delivery companies or a downturn in footfall when the ubiquitous chains move in a few doors down.

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The rise of branded restaurants has undoubtedly been a positive thing for the UK eating out market – they have changed the face of dining across the board, bringing new value-led concepts to the mass market – but have we now reached saturation point; a so-called casual dining crunch? The well documented struggles of brands like Cau, Strada and Byron seem to point to this, but what of the consumer appetite for brands and their continued domination?

A recent survey by GoKart revealed that half of UK diners are concerned that their local high street is being taken over by chains – a rebuttal to what is seen by many as the gradual homogenisation of our towns.

The research, which spoke to more than 2,000 UK adults, found that 37% have seen one or more of their favourite local independent restaurants shut down in the past 12 months, with more than half (53%) saying they’d rather eat out at independent restaurants because they want to support local businesses.

Whenever we speak to independent operators, they cite a number of operational pain points including rent, recruitment, energy costs, ingredient prices and the cost of kitchen equipment, as barriers to profitability. The health of local enterprise is something for which we are all responsible, and it’s abundantly clear that these independent eateries need our help to thrive.

That’s why, for the past 12 months, we have been working with our trusted distributor partners to bring about a wave of new flexible interest-free finance plans (a 3/5 year contract rental and an extended 18/24 month interest-free option joining a pre-existing 12 month interest-free deal) offering dealers greater freedom to sell without any associated risk to the bottom line and giving independent businesses the freedom to spread the cost of new equipment and manage cash flow more effectively.

Introducing longer, interest-free payment terms will not only mean more independent businesses can benefit, but those that do adopt the plans will undoubtedly be able to afford the high spec machine they require as opposed to settling for the one they think they can afford. Upgrading to state-of-the-art equipment can also have far reaching benefits for utility usage, not to mention the purchase of a machine built to last.

It’s only by being more flexible in our approach, more understanding of the specific needs of these types of businesses, that we as manufacturers and distributors can safeguard their continued survival.

The new flexible finance packages are available across all Hobart machines, tabling and installation. Dealers can speak to their Hobart sales representative today to find out more.

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