Grind CEO: “post lockdown is more scary than where we are now”

By Joe Lutrario

- Last updated on GMT

Grind CEO London coffee and restaurant warns post lockdown restrictions could be disastrous for hospitality

Related tags Coronavirus Restaurant Coffee shops

The co-founder and CEO of London coffee and restaurant business Grind has warned that post lockdown restrictions could be disastrous for his and many other hospitality businesses.

David Abrahamovitch says that fewer tourists and fewer office workers alongside health and safety restrictions including capacity reductions could create an extremely challenging environment for hospitality businesses.

While it may be possible to open some of Grind’s sites while restrictions are in place, re-opening under such conditions likely won’t be viable for the majority of the estate.

“Our models just don’t work without significant footfall. Most restaurant businesses can’t survive a 10% drop in customer numbers let alone a 50% drop. There’s no point reopening if you’re just going to lose money,” he says.

On top of this, support from Government - including the option to furlough staff - and landlords is likely to dry up post lockdown, making re-opening in a difficult and uncertain environment even tougher.

“And you also have the added pressure of the cash intensity required to get re-opened,” he continues.

“There’s stock to buy and who knows what’s going to happen with credit in the supply chain. It’s cash intensive to re-open and potentially fund periods of losses when trade is going to be a fraction of what it was before lockdown.

"This is the scary bit for me - it’s even scarier than where we are today.”

Grind recently increased its retail capacity and now supplies house-roasted coffee direct to consumers and also to major retailer including Ocado so has been able to keep its business ticking over to some extent.

Longer term, Abrahamovitch is more optimistic, predicting that things will eventually get back to normal and that central London won’t see a permanent drop in footfall.

“All this stuff about Zoom and Slack making people work from home post crisis is being overplayed,” he says. “Businesses will be less scared about remote working but I don’t think this will stop people going to work or wanting to see their friends at restaurants and bars.”

A full podcast interview with David Abrahamovitch will be available next week.

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