Everyone in the hospitality sector, across Europe, has endured many frustrating months of trading restrictions.
Now, while the way ahead is not exactly defined, we can at least look forward to reopening, and beginning to serve customers and guests once more.
Through the depths of the covid crisis, many organisations learned how to become more agile, and to work together to help not just one another, but to support those in need due to the pandemic. We can all take inspiration from the stories of helping accommodate the homeless, feeding key workers, and providing support to others, in completely new ways.
A key part of reopening is the need for everyone in the supply chain to work together, so that we can all enjoy a less stressful build-up of our businesses. With vaccination rollout building, we all stand a good chance of enjoying a much better summer season. So please can I ask you to not only plan – as well as you can, in uncertain times – but to share your plans with your business partners.
There are several reasons why this is important. First, stocks of many consumables are currently depleted in the supply chain. After many months of minimal or non-existent demand, wholesalers, stockists and manufacturers have reduced their inventory. This is true of everything from hotel mattresses to beer, from non-perishable foods to tableware.
Second, supply chains will need more time than usual, to restock. As well as ships jamming the Suez canal and disrupting supplies from Asia, we are in a situation where airfreight suppliers and trucking companies have cut back capacity, in response to the weaker demand of recent months. They will take time to build up that capacity, as they adjust to the new normal.
Third, every business in this chain has suffered financial shock. So nobody can afford to carry unwanted stock, or fill their warehouses simply in the hope that demand will return as before.
So, make your plans, estimate your needs for reopening. And even if you are not confident to order items immediately, please share your forecasts with distributors and supply chain partners. Warn them what you are likely to need, in the coming weeks. Help them to help you, enabling them to plan more accurately, by working from better information.
There’s an old saying – if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. So, please make your plans, adjust them regularly as conditions around reopening will inevitably change, and share your thoughts with your supply chain colleagues. When the sun shines, everyone wants ice cream – let’s make sure we have enough to go around!