Franco Manca chairman David Page has spoken of the frustration, but inevitability, of working with delivery partners during the pandemic.

Page, whose restaurants went from doing 15-20% delivery to 100% during lockdown, said it was difficult handing over customer contact to a third party.

But he said the logistics of delivery were too complex and too different a specialism to hospitality, and so it therefore made sense to work with third parties.

He told MCA’s Restaurant Conference: “The issues we had were the same issues we had before, which is in the restaurants we are completely in charge of delivering the food to the customers, we’re in control.

“As soon as you delegate to a third party, there is certainly someone else to blame. And also there are cracks that the delivery process falls into.

“It is a frustrating experience, not being 100% in charge. But then, that is something that we have to deal with.”

Page said attempts to run an in-house delivery service had been fraught with difficulties, at both Franco Manca and his previous business, Bombay Bicycle Club.

He said: “We have experimented with owning our own bikes, and it didn’t work. It was a different skill. So we are prepared to pay the percentage to the, to the experts really.”

Page likened negotiating commission with partners such as Deliveroo to a “Mexican stand-off”.

He said: “It’s very painful for a couple of weeks before your renewal comes up, and obviously, we’d like to pay them nothing!

“But we reach an agreement and then it’s renegotiated every period, based on the volume we’re doing.”

Speaking on the same panel session, Matt Ring, national accounts director at Deliveroo, said the platform had brought on 13,000 new restaurant partners since the beginning of the first lockdown in March, taking it to 46,000 partners in total.

Ring said: “We really do see ourselves as a partner for growth for restaurants and for the industry as a whole. We believe that working with us opens up a new revenue stream, and offers another opportunity for customers to enjoy restaurant quality food at home.

“The majority of our commission goes back into building and supporting the rider network, including making sure that they’re paid well. And a good amount also goes into the technology behind that infrastructure, which we continue to improve. We really do believe that we’re driving that incremental growth, and we’ll continue to do so.”

Meanwhile, Steve Braude, a director at AlixPartners, said the pandemic had accelerated consumer adoption of delivery apps.

He said: “What we’re seeing is restaurants operators using this as a more permanent platform for them to use, and consumers are now moving from once a week takeaway to ordering far more often. It’s become part of their eating routine now.

He added: “We joke that by the time we were are allowed to leave our houses again, we won’t actually need to. Delivery has become one of those where everybody has needed to use it if they want to get food from their favourite restaurants.”

To watch all the footage from the event please click here.

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