Restaurant investor Robin Rowland has urged the sector not to overdo Brexit, advising operators to “get, down, get real and get on with it”.
The non-executive director of Yo! Sushi and partner at global private equity firm Trispan LLP made the comments during an investor’s outlook panel at UKHospitality’s Shaping the Future summer conference.
Also on the panel was Luke Johnson, a partner at Risk Capital Partners, who said: “Do ordinary people stop buying coffee or a meal because of Brexit? I don’t think so. Business is about overcoming challenges and being positive; you can get yourself into a gloomy site, but I think most of the time pessimists do not succeed.”
Johnson said he had seen “much worse trading conditions in the past,” while Rowland added “you should see what’s happening in Saudi”.
Both investors told those gathered in London’s Grand Connaught Rooms on Monday that opportunities are available despite the restaurant industry going through a period of correction following oversupply and increasing financial pressures.
But Rowland said the journey to correct saturation of some markets could be longer than expected, stressing that disposing of restaurant sites may not be a quick process.
Addressing the recent spate of Company Voluntary Agreements, he advised: “If you’ve got a business that needs surgery, just do it.”
Others at the conference were less optimistic, with many expressing concerns about the future of EU workers, something tourism minister Michael Ellis MP said he would take “extremely seriously”.
Steve Richards, CEO of the Casual Dining Group, also expressed concerns about the economy adding: “If the economy takes a nose dive, consumer spending will drop; if that declines, that will effect hospitality because we are discretionary spend. We like to think we are resilient, but fundamentally we need a buoyant economy.”