Valda Goodfellow of
discusses the impact
of coronavirus on
Valda Goodfellow of G&G Goodfellows discusses the impact of coronavirus on the industry
And so, it seems we are living in strangest of times with challenges that will overwhelm some but create opportunities for others. This is such a time when we should try to keep our heads and look past this crisis to a new beginning.
In the last decade and more, we have faced everything from global financial meltdowns, through to the crumbling of the high street, to this latest catastrophe which seems much more personal and important. Some amazing names have long-since disappeared into the pages of history, while others have flourished, grasping the smallest chance to rise above the chaos.
I get the feeling that this pandemic will not only massively change the landscape of our sector but it has the potential to change how society behaves. Maybe I am wrong, but this feels like a turning point and, as an industry, we need to look at how we move beyond this point into a different era.
Let’s look at what led up to this turning point;
The decline in retail – in the UK, I believe the origins of this lie in the financial crisis in 2008 (with lack of wage inflation) and escalated through a perfect storm of a boom in online shopping; high rents and rates; over-expansion; and more recently social attitudes changing towards having too much stuff which leads us all to harming the planet.
The shift in global manufacturing – over the last decade we have seen the struggle more traditional European manufacturers have had to keep going, against the tidal wave of cheaper-produced, mass-manufactured tableware. Even European brands have had to embrace this shift, or die. In the whole food service supply sector we have seen a race to the bottom on the pricing of commodity goods.
Social Changes – the speed of global connectivity means trends are moving faster than we can keep up with; social influencers can move mountains with just one click and create an entire paradigm shift in global thinking on sustainability; staying-in to dine is the new going-out; our mania with global travel making it so easy for diseases to spread like wildfire.
Restaurant over-capacity – investment portfolios were falling over themselves to finance the latest celebrity chef or new restaurant name, leading to rapid over-expansion in capacity. It was inevitable that when demand drops, some would crash and burn.
So here we are, at the time of writing this, Europe is almost in total lockdown, restaurants and bars are forced to shut and the ripple-effects further down the supply chain are being felt more like a tsunami. By the time this is published, who knows what will happen, so maybe this snapshot in time will serve well as a marker to what actually did follow.
All I can say is, that those of us who are still up for the fight to survive, will find a way. Maybe it will create new collaborations and a desire to work more together with an eye on the longer-term, knowing that we have to be more vigilant on what may lie around the next corner. Maybe, we have to find a new way; a more considered way, with less focus on ‘stuff’ and more focus on what really matters.
I would like to think that we will care more about quality and try to preserve what has integrity – delivering greater value and sense of fulfilment. This all may sound like I am preaching but I don’t intend to. I would just like to think that this strangest of times will make us stop and think about what we are really doing and what we can do better.
So, what does this mean in practical terms? After any great crisis of war, disease and financial failure, society has chosen to either be more conscientious (following the Second World war), or seek pleasure to forget the pain (think the roaring ‘20s!). Who knows where this will go but if our younger generation have their way, I would bet on the former.
All I know is what I intend to do, which is;
• Plan to survive by looking ahead and keeping us as competitive, innovative, financially responsible and efficient as I possibly can.
• Prepare for a future hospitality landscape that will have to focus on delivering a high-quality experience rather than mass volume, low-margin business.
• Work in the most collaborative way possible with existing and new partners who see the benefits in working together, particularly in challenging times.
• Work harder to understand our customers’ needs more closely, so we can help them create more robust and fulfilling experiences for their diners. We aim to do this anyway but it is now more important than ever.
• Increase our effort to provide even more inspiration through considered development and leadership. Even if we get it wrong, we will continue to try and lead the way by listening to both our customers and suppliers.
• Value our relationships more as people are more important than short-term gain.
In terms of leading the way, we are in the middle of preparing our next brochure. While everyone around us is putting a stop to marketing spend, we are moving forward; as this too will pass and we need to be ready for a new start and be fit for the future.
To end on a lighter note, the sun is starting to shine and hopefully spring is on the way, bringing better times for us all. Having not mentioned tableware in more specific terms, here are a couple of new ideas to get us ready for that more considered futures, Costa Nova has responded quickly to the rising demand for recycled tableware, with its Plano range, and a great new design Vespa from Bonna, who seem to be able to constantly read the consciousness of every new trend.
I am making further plans to try and help those who can struggle on, not just in hospitality but in food & drink manufacture; but more of that in the next instalment! Whatever happens, we are taking all the precautions we can, whilst accepting that anything could happen; and if it does, then we will deal with it.
As Rudyard Kipling’s poem If says ‘If you can meet with triumph and disaster and treat those two impostors just the same.’ About G & G
Founded by Paul and Valda Goodfellow, G & G Goodfellows is a highly creative design & distribution company with an amazing showroom in Little Portland Street. Offering a truly hands-on service, Goodfellows passion is to bring new and exciting, bespoke food presentation concepts to the UK’s culinary scene. As well as offering a wide variety of the world’s best branded tableware, kitchen equipment, clothing and machines, Goodfellows also collaborates closely with UK craft producers for totally unique products. It works with all sizes of restaurant and catering projects, happy to supply anything from an individual plate to a full restaurant concept.