Overcoming the pandemic challenges: views from the front line

A new webinar will hear from industry operators on how they have met the challenges presented by the coronavirus, writes Donald McKinnon

This article is sponsored by Wylie & Bisset

HAVING been greatly encouraged by the response to a webinar we hosted for a selection of our hospitality sector clients in the immediate aftermath of the Scottish Government’s announcement of its route map to ease the lockdown restrictions, we are delighted to announce the launch of our free Hospitality Hub to examine these issues in more detail for one of the sectors hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic.

The inaugural Wylie & Bisset Hospitality Hub webinar is scheduled for 2pm on Tuesday June 23 and will comprise a series of short presentations from high-profile speakers on the various challenges they have encountered during the coronavirus pandemic and how they have sought to overcome these obstacles.

Speakers will include: John Quigley, renowned Glasgow restaurateur and owner of the award-winning Red Onion in Glasgow city centre; Michael Modlin, owner of Parklands Hotel & Country Club, a four-star boutique hotel and country club in East Renfrewshire and Linda MacLellan, owner of the Bowmore Hotel on Islay.

Any hospitality sector operators interested in joining this free event can do so by registering via development@wyliebisset.com.

The Scottish Government’s route map to ease lockdown restrictions through four flexible phases, which will be reviewed every three weeks, states that hospitality businesses with outdoor spaces will be able to reopen during phase two of the plan, but those without outdoor space will not be allowed to reopen until phase three.

The plans have drawn widespread criticism from trade industry bodies, which accuse the government of having drawn up the plans without consultation and warn that they risk generating widespread closures and job losses.

Rather than the plans being based on whether or not a business has outdoor space, it is argued that the ability to reopen should be based on whether or not it is possible for a business to operate safely with social distancing guidelines in place.

Given the notorious changeability of the Scottish climate, relying on outdoor space for custom does indeed seem a high-risk strategy, leading some operators to call for the introduction of a variety of other measures, such as an extended furlough, an extension of the business rates holiday, a 12-month rent-free period, a Scottish independent hospitality development fund, and VAT reduction.

With many businesses having struggled to access financial support throughout the lockdown, and larger businesses have been denied grant support altogether, the first Wylie & Bisset Hospitality Hub will provide a timely opportunity for operators to discuss and explore these issues in detail.

And we will be on hand to offer a range of business and financial advice to assist hospitality sector operators through this process.

The plan is that our Hospitality Hub will provide operators with a regular monthly forum to discuss sector-wide challenges and opportunities amongst their peers at no expense. Any operators interested in joining this free event can do so by registering here: development@wyliebisset.com.

Donald McKinnon is joint managing partner of Wylie & Bisset chartered accountants