It’s been an exceptionally tough year for the hospitality sector. UK Hospitality, the sector’s trade body, estimates that 660,000 people employed in the sector have lost their jobs due to the pandemic.
And while there appears to be light at the end of the tunnel now that the government has set out a roadmap to sector re-opening, there’s still great cause for caution amongst businesses in the hospitality sector.
Charlie Gilkes, boss of hospitality business Inception Group which owns and operates restaurants and bars across London recently told the Daily Mail’s Andrew Pierce that capacity restrictions when the sector re-opens in May would still result in a significant revenue drop compared to normal trading conditions. He described this as something that larger firms can absorb while leaving smaller firms without government support and still with insufficient revenue to make opening viable.
So while cautiously optimistic, businesses in the hospitality sector are looking for ways to manage costs when they eventually do re-open.
One potentially overlooked area for the hospitality sector is energy. Even during the lockdown, bars, hotels and restaurants have been spending on energy. They’ve had to maintain equipment such as refrigerators and cooling systems, with a non-trivial cost attached. It’s estimated that around 41% of energy consumption in a commercial kitchen goes on refrigeration. So while the cookers have been turned off, almost half of the average energy consumption associated with trading has been humming away in the background.
So now that the sector is getting ready to re-open, one energy expert is urging businesses to consider getting on top of their consumption before they get back into the swing of trading.
Jeff Walsh is managing director of Manchester-based business energy consultancy Energy PEAK. The company specialises in helping businesses in the hospitality sector manage their energy usage and lower their bills. Energy PEAK offers free energy audits to help businesses understand just how much they can save on their energy consumption.
Jeff believes a really quick way for companies to get their energy bills in check is to simply make sure they’re not being ripped off.
“Last year, Ofgem found that rogue business brokers had been ripping off commercial customers to the tune of £2 billion a year – that’s higher than the entire GDP of some countries.
“Commercial energy mis-selling is a growing problem and it relies on business owners being too busy to have the time to look into whether they’re getting the best deal. They simply don’t know they’re being ripped off.”
And for those who are happy with their supplier, there are still ways to keep bills in check.
Says Jeff: “Business energy consultancies like Energy PEAK work differently to brokers. For one thing, we offer a free, no obligation audit to help customers understand whether or not they’re getting the best deal and to get a full understanding of their own energy consumption.
“But we understand that “free” doesn’t mean there isn’t a cost. Most business owners are busy running their business. And speaking to an energy consultant is a time cost; it’s an interruption to the day that many business owners feel they could do without. We understand that. That’s why we’ve pioneered a ‘digital first’ approach to energy consultancy.”