Seasonal Briefing Report

December 2020

During this past year, many will have lost people whom they held close; family, cherished friends, dear colleagues. To you I send me deepest sympathies. Many others will have become unemployed, or lost their business, or their life savings. I am thinking of you at this difficult time. But whatever your circumstances, there is a glow on the horizon. My hope is we will march towards it with confidence, and hope, in 2021.

A year ago

This time last year, at the Arena Christmas lunch, a regular glittering event at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in London, I was asked to give my annual Seasonal Briefing on the foodservice sector over the past year. Amongst other things, I talked about how the foodservice sector had slowed dramatically in the late Springof 2019and I dubbed it, ironically,the “Quarter 22019Lockdown”.

Two months later, at the annual Arena Lecture, held, as always, at the Savoy, we were merrily exchanging elbow bumps in recognition of a somewhat distant threat that was taking shape in Asia and across continental Europe. Our bumps were accompanied with embarrassed quips but some slight unease. We were aware that things might change a bit. How wrong we were about the scale of these changes.


During March,lockdowns started around the world. In the UK there was advice from the government to not eat out, to not go to work unnecessarily, to not spend nights in hotels. And then a week later, on 23 March, the government instituted a full scale lockdown. No going to work. No leaving home (except for a one hour walk each day and visitsto food shops). Definitely no eating or drinking out.

Take 10 minutes to read Peter Backman’s full insight and thoughtful Seasonal Report here.

To end

What stands out for me amongst these reflections? There is a glow on the Horizon.

On the debit side there is a whole range of bad things that define this last year. Anguish. Pain. Anger. Lost lives. Lost businesses.

But thankfully there are many things to put of the credit side of the ledger too. Innovation. Change. Positivity. Friendship.

And friendship seems to be a good point on which to end. So, let me finish where I started and wish you all the best of the season’s festive greetings. It’s been a tough year; let’s put it behind us and let’s look forward to meeting once again in 2021.