As I write these words, two out of four home nations – England and Northern Ireland – have gone back into full lockdown, for a short time at least, while Wales has just emerged from its own ‘firebreak’ restrictions.
With hospitality venues closed within the locked down areas, it really does seem that every step in the national consciousness at the moment is a step backwards for the fortunes of the sector that we rely on for our revenues.
Dealers, servicing firms, suppliers and manufacturers can’t make plans for the future on these shifting sands, and in some cases this is threatening to turn into quicksand, sucking the unwary into business oblivion. Being constantly on a ‘wartime’ footing, waiting for the next cannonball the pandemic’s impact will throw at us all, is not conducive to peace of mind. And with government assistance for the supply chain being fairly patchy (though the extension of the furlough scheme until March is welcome) there’s sometimes not even a safety net to fall back on.
It is no wonder therefore that industry whispers suggest that many firms are struggling to survive. Of course no-one wants to admit outright that they are on the brink, but sadly it will become very apparent if we see a wave of insolvencies to add to the redundancy carnage we’ve already experienced this year. Already last week National FM was the latest business to hit the buffers.
Having wallowed in the doom and gloom in this piece thus far, I do also have to counter that all is not lost. The wonderful news of a 90% effective Covid vaccine this week does point to the beginning of the end of the pandemic – though we still do have to wait months for a mass rollout.
And there are still many companies quickly adapting to the constantly changing circumstances, producing new products, offerings and financial packages, continuing with projects, and bucking the trend and recruiting rather than losing staff. And it is these hardy souls that we are rightly celebrating with this year’s Kitchen & Equipment Awards Week, the joint digital event from Catering Insight and Foodservice Equipment Journal.
You can see the shortlist in full within our November issue, with industry voting opening now to choose the winners by Friday 13 November. And don’t forget to tune in online for the victor announcements on the week commencing 30 November, for a very welcome slice of UK catering equipment supply chain positivity. See you then!