New research from online ordering platform for takeaways and restaurants Flipdish, suggests that pivoting to a takeaway/delivery business model during lockdown jas saved over half of all independent restaurants in Ireland.

As a result of the change of business model, 67% of businesses were in a position to earn up to 20% of revenue compared to their income before the pandemic.

2,500 members of the Restaurant Association of Ireland were canvassed in March for the Flipdish survey. The survey was commissioned to mark the anniversary of the first lockdown in Ireland and to bring attention to the challenges that the hospitality sector had experienced in the previous 12 months.

The research found only 26% of restaurant owners relied on aggregators like Just Eat and Deliveroo, while 68% of restaurant owners created their own takeaway or food delivery service in the aftermath of the first lockdown restrictions. Of all restaurant owners in Ireland who responded, over 9 in 10 (93%) believed that the commission fees (of up to a third of the order value) charged by aggregators during the pandemic were unfair.

The data also showed restaurant owners pivoted for financial reasons with 61% of respondents stating offering takeaway was the only way to keep a revenue stream. 57% believed without doing so they would not have survived. Owners believe they had to take matters into their own hands as 56% do not believe government support has been adequate.

There are also emotional drivers behind the decision to pivot to takeaway and delivery: 56% wanted to provide employment to staff, 40% felt it kept them involved in the community, 31% believed it was important for their mental health to keep open, and 16% felt obliged to support the community’s vulnerable people. In fact, 62% of restaurant owners were able to keep between 1 and 5 members of staff working because of the pivot.

The pandemic has seen the restaurant industry move towards in-house technology to both survive lockdown but also to engage directly with their customer base and look to grow their business when restaurants re-open. 98% do not believe using aggregators to provide takeaway services is a long-term solution. 87% believe they need to be in control of their data, customers and branding to rally and thrive after the pandemic, which is not adequately provided to them through aggregator platforms. 82% of restaurants that use aggregator platforms would consider setting up their own websites or mobile apps to offer takeaway services.

Restaurants that had already invested in their own website or mobile app are optimistic about the future. 68% will continue to offer takeaway and online food delivery services after the pandemic, as they feel it offers a long-term business model. 87% of respondents believe that for the long-term sustainability of their business it is important to be in control of their own data, branding and customers by encouraging sales to come directly to their own website/app.

Conor McCarthy, CEO and Co-Founder of Flipdish, said: “This survey has shown that many independent restaurants in Ireland would not have had a chance to survive without pivoting to a takeaway model during the first lockdown. 21% of restaurant owners were able to pivot to offering online takeaway within a day of lockdown, but conversely, it took 28% of restaurant owners over three months to get online.”

The survey was conducted amongst the 2,500 members of the Restaurants Association of Ireland between Tuesday, 2nd March and Friday, 5th March. Members of the Restaurants Association of Ireland are made up of full service restaurants, coffees shops, hotel restaurants, gastropubs, golf clubs and cookery schools.

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