Business suppliers still feel the pinch

Coronavirus: Hospitality suppliers fear for their businesses

Coronavirus
Evatt Butchers owner Darren Doblinger and apprentice Grace Zorzi; and left, Frontline Hospitality owner Sylvia Elix. Pictures: Sitthixay Ditthavong, Elesa Kurtz

Evatt Butchers owner Darren Doblinger and apprentice Grace Zorzi; and left, Frontline Hospitality owner Sylvia Elix. Pictures: Sitthixay Ditthavong, Elesa Kurtz

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Hospitality suppliers fear they'll continue to bear the brunt of COVID-19

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Businesses that supply the hospitality industry fear they'll continue to bear the brunt of COVID-19, even while cafes, restaurants, pubs and clubs reopen.

Sylvia Elix is the agency owner of Frontline Hospitality, which connects temporary staff to hospitality and event businesses in the ACT and southern NSW.

"It was like a tsunami hit," she said.

"It was so surreal, within minutes and within days everything was cancelled and shut down."

"With my business I provide temporary support to businesses. So if there is no business then my business doesn't operate."

Mrs Elix was eligible for JobKeeper, and said being able to freeze bills has assisted in keeping her business afloat.

She said that with patronage limits for venues and events, she does not expect her business to return to normal soon.

"It's not feasible for many [hospitality] business owners to reopen."

Mrs Elix said maintaining relationships with her clients during difficult times is key.

"It's the time to be there and support each other, and letting people know I'm here, that's all I can do."

Frontline Hospitality owner Sylvia Elix. Picture: Elesa Kurtz

Frontline Hospitality owner Sylvia Elix. Picture: Elesa Kurtz

Evatt Butchers has a retail store and provides meat trays to clubs for raffle prizes.

"I've lost 70 percent of my business, the shopfront is just struggling without the raffle trades," Evatt Butchers Owner Darren Doblinger said.

"Clubs chop and change suppliers which is fine, but I've never lost the whole lot in one day - that's what happened with COVID-19"

Mr Doblinger had to stand down casual staff and was eligible for JobKeeper. His landlord also allowed him to pay half the rent during this time.

He said he relies on clubs reopening to normal capacity for his business to get back to normal.

"We had an increase [in retail sales] when all that panic buying was on but that was three weeks. Once everybody realised it wasn't as dramatic as it was it dropped back to normal [retail] sales again."

Mr Doblinger also runs a farm with cattle and sheep which supplies his butcher shop.

His farm was affected by drought, and COVID-19 led him to sell off 60 per cent of his stock.

"The numbers I've got at my farm reflect the turnover I do at the shop," he said.

"I sold all the stock that would have gone through the shop over the next couple of months."

Capital Liquor & Bev is a wholesale supplier of alcohol to restaurants, cafes and bars.

Co-directors Mark James and Joe Calipari say that they have lost 80 percent of their business during the pandemic.

"That's what happens in this industry when we shut the bars and restaurants," Mr Capilari said.

"Our business is basically 80 per cent on premises. We are only as busy as our customers are because they require that supply if they are busy," Mr James said.

"If they are still down X per cent we'll follow suit."

All staff at Capital Liquor & Bev are now on JobKeeper. They have provided some retail services which has allowed them to "keep their doors open".

While some restaurants have started to deliver take-away alcohol, this hasn't translated to an increase of sales.

"I think it helped [restaurants and bars] turn over some stock they had on hand to make some money," Mr James said.

Mr James and Mr Capilari say that moving into the alcohol delivery space could put them in competition with loyal clients.

"We didn't want to be seen stepping on their toes," Mr Calipari said.

"We have to toe a fine line and supply as much as we can to those retailers.

"You just got to ride it out," Mr James said.

The story Business suppliers still feel the pinch first appeared on The Canberra Times.

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