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March 25, 2019

Propel Newsletter, a daily round-up of hospitality news, had an interesting article today on the effects that delivery services are having on restaurants.

According to findings from the 2019 Business Leaders’ Survey from CGA and CPL Online, the growth of delivery services is boosting sales for many restaurants. However, the same delivery services may also be 'compromising consumers’ perception' of the restaurant's brands.

The report has found that half (52%) of businesses now offer a third-party delivery service such as Deliveroo or Just Eat.

Nearly three quarters (73%) said it has a positive impact on sales, compared with just 4% who think it has a negative impact.

The report also found fewer bosses (33%) believe delivery is benefiting loyalty. The survey highlighted the risk that delivery can damage the reputation of a brand, especially if it is executed badly. Only one in five leaders (19%) said delivery has a positive impact on consumers’ brand perception – lower than those who think it has a negative (20%) or neutral (61%) impact.

CGA director Karl Chessell said: 'The rise of third-party delivery platforms such as Deliveroo and UberEats is having a seismic impact on many restaurants’ business models. But our survey makes clear that it is a double-edged sword. Operators are having to weigh up the positive short-term impact on sales with the danger of compromising their brand and reducing restaurant footfall in the long run. Leaders will be watching delivery sales patterns with great care in 2019, and it will be fascinating to see where this crucial trend goes next.'

Cocoon or eat out?

Some industry commentators have wondered if delivery services will ultimately sound a death knell for bricks-and-mortar restaurants as we currently know them. Their argument is that more and more people are choosing to cocoon themselves at home with a takeout and streaming services such as Netflix.

At some point, they argue, there will be a tipping point and more people will choose to eat their restaurant meals at home than in a restaurant. As a result, walk-in restaurants, and their expensive overhead costs, will be replaced by so-called dark kitchens that only prepare meals for delivery.

This blogger likes to think that there will always be a demand for walk-in restaurants. Sure, delivery is convenient but eating on the sofa misses out on the atmosphere, the service and the sense of a convivial shared experience which can make a restaurant visit so enjoyable. The main pic shows the interior of Amarone restaurant in Edinburgh. Not many of us can replicate that sort of ambience-enhancing decor in our homes.

Michelin quality delivery 

It is certainly going to be an interesting few years for the restaurant industry. Delivery services seem unlikely to go away. In fact, today's Propel Newsletter also reported that another player is planning to enter the market.

One of the team behind boutique hotels specialist Mr & Mrs Smith is looking for investment for an upmarket delivery service. Called The Cook and The Thief, the service will deliver food from high-end restaurants including Michelin-starred establishments.

Top chefs have long been resistant to having their carefully assembled creations slopped about on the back of a bike by a delivery driver. It all goes back to compromising consumers' perception of their brand.

If the Cook and The Thief get it right then the 'world's first on-bike stabilisation and heating system' will ensure that the dishes arrive in perfect restaurant condition.  The idea is to launch in London - no surprises there - and then roll out across other cities.

The Cook and The Thief raises the possibility of customers being able to order delivery from chefs such as Martin Wishart or Tom Kitchin. Your blogger wishes The Cook and The Thief every success but, personally, I wouldn't feel right eating a Tom Kitchin signature dish in my dressing gown while tuning into the new series of Game of Thrones.