Peter Martin is an industry expert and commentator who co-founded M&C Report in 1996, which later merged with Allegra Foodservice to become MCA. Since then Peter has gone on to launch and run other industry services and events, including the Peach Factory, which is now part of CGA. Peter has now re-joined MCA as a columnist, giving his view on the big issues of the moment.
Peter Martin: Struggling for influence
So who gets your vote? Andy Burnham? Rishi Sunak? Which politician deserves most credit for supporting the interests of hospitality?
Peter Martin: Time for cool heads and hard data
Repeat after me. The Government is not our friend. It might like to think it still is, but it has proved far too unreliable, inconsistent and devious a companion for that. Now that’s not to say, we shouldn’t perhaps try to be civil and ready to do business – but a lot more openness and honesty on our political leaders’ part needs to be forthcoming before trust with the hospitality sector is going to be restored.
Peter Martin: A postcard from commuter country
It would be ironic if 2020 turned out to be the year that the British fully and finally learned to embrace continental café culture. Going out has changed, perhaps even permanently. We rarely stand by the bar with pint in hand, not that we are generally allowed to. We are all getting used to booking a table on-line, waiting to be seated on arrival and then ordering at the table, even for a beer, wine or coffee and often from an app on our smart phone. Table service is obligatory. No more heading straight to the bar. If we can we’ll venture outside.
Peter Martin: Going with the grains on healthy eating
The eating-out market did at least have a fraction more notice of Boris’s new obesity crusade than those planning a Spanish summer holiday received about quarantine. But it still came as an unwelcome surprise for most in the restaurant and pub world, not least because only last week the majority of us were still celebrating the cut in VAT and the launch of the Eat Out to Help Out campaign.
Peter Martin: A global problem requires a global perspective
Anyone who expected England’s pub and restaurant market to spring miraculously back to life all flags flying on the Fourth of July hadn’t read the programme notes. All the data pointed to a sedate reopening. Only just over half of operators said they would be opening even some of their sites. In the end just 45% of pubs and bars welcomed customers back.
Peter Martin: The road from farm to fork is going to get bumpier
Apart from the queues and early shortages of eggs, pasta and flour, the British public has not in general had a problem being fed during the coronavirus crisis.
Peter Martin: Cutting the distance with customers
Last week’s YouGov poll that showed a majority of the British public still in favour of retaining two-metre distancing should not have come as any surprise.
Peter Martin: Making hospitality part of the solution
The weekend’s press brought more tantalising headlines for the hospitality sector. Government fears of a ‘jobs bloodbath’ if the sector failed to reopen in time for the summer would accelerate an easing of the lockdown for pubs and restaurants, the Sunday Times front page splash optimistically predicted.
Peter Martin: Why being first isn’t always best
The good news about hospitality having to wait until at least 4 July to start reopening is that it gives operators another month to prepare and plan. It will be valuable time, not just to hone operational protocols and procedures, but to see how the wider economy starts to function, or not, after its 1 June restart date.
Peter Martin: How to make friends, and influence the right people
The prime minister is safely back in Downing Street, and there are more signs of life in the out-of-home market as the likes of Burger King, Pret a Manger and KFC take tentative steps to reopen sites. But for much of the hospitality and leisure sector the outlook remains uncertain and confusing. Last week’s pronouncement by chief medical officer Chris Whitty that “disruptive” social distancing is likely to be a feature of day-to-day life even until the end of the year, did nothing to calm the nerves of an already under pressure industry.
Peter Martin: Speculation and confusion, but still no government plan
So when will business - and pubs, bars and restaurant in particular - be able to open up again? It’s the question more people are beginning to ask, and the issue that has consumed much of this weekend’s media. The short answer seems to be ‘no time soon’. The press has been full of speculation, not to say confusion, about the Government’s supposed ‘three-point plan’ to start-up the economy, with talk of traffic-light systems, schools the first to open their doors as early as May 11, and even hope for the eating-out market.
Peter Martin: If there’s one debt you do need to pay
So the waiting game begins. After the last weeks of frenetic activity as the hospitality sector lobbied hard for Government lifelines, most companies are locking themselves into survival mode.