By autumn, the number of catering organizations in Russia had reached pre-pandemic levels. In recent months, the number of objects continues to grow slightly. Now there are about 92 thousand restaurants, cafes and bars throughout the country. Those who have gained a flexible experience of rapid changes continue to stay afloat, first of all. However, experts are convinced that in the coming months, restaurateurs will have to simplify not only the range of menus and product matrices, but also business concepts in general.
In the coming months of 2022-2023, the Association of Catering Chain Enterprises (ASPP) expects an increase in demand for the development of the restaurant and cafe market - for inexpensive, quality food outside the home. This was told to Izvestiya by the head of the ASPP and the director of the Institute of Public Catering of the Federal Scientific Center for Food Systems named after V.I. V.M. Gorbatova Natalia Ivanova. For example, DoDo plans to launch over a hundred new outlets next year, and Vkusno-i Tochka also intends to open new fast food restaurants. Moreover, all these plans are not connected with the departure of foreign companies.
“Currently, large companies, chain establishments have a higher margin of safety, and there are more opportunities for optimizing processes within the company,” says the CEO of the Association of Catering Network Enterprises. “These advantages are important when restructuring logistics, selecting new suppliers, against the backdrop of a decrease in purchasing activity. Although it will not be easy for restaurants with a complex menu and a high bill, also because their consumer audience is changing. At the same time, given that their market share is about 5%, we do not expect a drop in the overall performance of the catering market.
According to the OMI agency, in the nine months of this year there was a general growth in the catering market, while traffic in establishments did not recover either by the end of 2021 — 53% of all orders were consumed outside the restaurant, nor in 2022. This indicates that consumer behavior has changed and delivery (catering) has become a significant part of our lives, Natalia Ivanova clarifies.
According to the calculations of the service for checking counterparties "Kontur.Focus", the growth in the number of new catering companies of all formats in February-August in Russia still reached the pre-pandemic level. Since the beginning of 2021, the number of catering organizations has increased by 8.3%. In September 2022, the number of organizations exceeded 176 thousand. At the same time, in the last week of the month, the situation sank a little.
For example, according to Focus Technologies, the performance of public catering enterprises in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Kazan decreased slightly compared to last week. The number of orders over the past week was 17–22% lower than the same days of the previous week, revenue was 18–23% lower, and the average check was 1–2% lower. The overall activity of potential consumers in the markets of Moscow, St. Petersburg and Kazan also sank slightly (according to the Mall Index, by 3-4%).
“For example, I am now seeing a drop in revenue by about 20 percent, and in shopping centers even by 30 percent,” Andrey Gryaznov, the founder of restaurants in various regions of Russia and Kazakhstan, CEO of Gryaznov Restogroup, told Izvestia. — The situation is worsened by the fact that restaurants and cafes are working at maximum. We leave high-margin dishes, but minimize the cost. Thus, we do not raise prices, but reduce portions. Temporary problems are connected with the fact that many alcohol companies left the Russian market. Although, of course, we were able to refocus on products from the Crimea and the Krasnodar Territory. However, this is reminiscent of the situation with the introduction of Quar codes: at first there was panic for two weeks, and then everything began to stabilize. I think the same will happen now.
Andrey Gryaznov predicts that in a couple of weeks there is a high probability that the recession will end and people will return, because “everyone needs emotions, people need to share their impressions.” According to him, the difficulty now is due to the fact that not so much the guests began to walk less, but the places of conscript employees need to be transferred to other employees.
“This takes time and they still need to be trained,” the Russian restaurateur notes. - In addition, now many have entered the stage of negotiations with landlords to provide discounts. Therefore, a lot now depends on the position of landlords in the country. In general, if the current wave ends, then in half a month everything will begin to stabilize, and people will begin to return to restaurants.
According to the Institute of Restaurant Technologies, over the past months of 2022, many catering establishments in million-plus cities have closed through sale, but the new owners continue to open new cafes and restaurants in these areas. The new wave of covid, although it has not imposed new administrative restrictions, has not yet contributed to the increase in attendance at establishments.
“The hardest thing is for establishments that have not been able to fully adapt to working with local products, they include premium segment enterprises, in particular, Mediterranean cuisine, whose menu is more closely tied to imported gastronomy than others,” says Kadrina Aisitulina, director of the Institute of Restaurant Technologies. — Currently, sushi bars and Japanese restaurants are still experiencing problems with fish and seafood. Again, they are on the market, but two aspects - quality and price - leave much to be desired. And seafood comes mainly from Asian regions.
Due to the strengthening of anti-Russian sanctions, there were certain problems with logistics and payment for foreign supplies: all this caused an increase in food prices. In addition, catering operators have encountered difficulties in acquiring and maintaining foreign kitchen equipment. Rising prices and other difficulties had a negative impact on consumers' wallets, as a result of which restaurants and cafes began to contain prices, that is, they began to strategically revise the menu.
At the same time, according to Kontur.Market, Russian catering has been able to show a very encouraging growth trend this year and is still recovering from the decline in sales in the industry, which was affected by coronavirus restrictions. According to the data for February-August 2022, the number of orders in public catering decreased slightly, the average check showed a slightly larger increase. All this means that the services of restaurants, cafes, bars, canteens are still in demand, and people are ready to pay for them, even if it costs a little more. According to BusinesStat estimates, the drivers of the catering industry in the coming months will be: the growth in demand for the services of fast food establishments and the active development of the ready-meal delivery sector (catering).
The low level of consumers' incomes and a series of crises contribute to the demand for the products of establishments of low price segments. Fast food is the most affordable catering format.
“In order to save money, Russians are expected to limit visits to catering establishments in the coming months,” says Anna Mokina, BusinesStat project manager. “However, the decline will be contained by a partial redistribution of demand from establishments of a higher price segment to fast food.
Vladimir Oleinikov, director of the school of chefs at the Moscow State University of Food Production (MGUPP), chairman of the culinary association Taste of the World RUS, also expects a predictable decline.
“But by the end of the year, everything will level out and adapt to new requests,” Vladimir Oleinikov is sure. - Problems that may arise are the outflow of guests from restaurants and cafes, people will save money and try to look for an advantageous position for themselves. The main vector of development is the corporate catering "Canteens" in the range of 300-500 rubles. But cafes and restaurants will have to look for new ways to reduce the cost of dishes, look for new chips, why the consumer should choose them.
A representative of the catering industry assured Izvestia that the temporary decline at the end of September, in aggregate, will block the high New Year's Eve and New Year's seasons. “We should not forget that a surge in event tourism is expected at the beginning of the year, people who have traveled abroad will reorient themselves to domestic tourism, which will bring additional income to restaurants and cafes,” Oleinikov emphasizes.
RestA CEO Ksenia Kevlya adds that, most likely, catering companies will probably be forced to revise and optimize not only the staffing table, but also urgently look for temporary replacements for the mobilized staff. It is often micro-enterprises that are deprived of key specialists. “Perhaps, in the near future, restaurateurs will have to revise their menus, taking into account the simplification of cooking technology,” Kevlya notes.
“A positive result of all recent events can be considered that the catering industry has begun to be considered at the highest level as an important industry for the state,” says Natalia Ivanova, CEO of the Association of Catering Network Enterprises (ASPP). — This is the reason for the support that was provided to the enterprises of the industry. We expect further constructive interaction to reduce the administrative burden, optimize tax regulation, labor relations and support measures for the industry.
Partner of the consulting company RRG (part of the Russian Guild of Managers and Developers) Svetlana Yarova states that the market has stopped for the next two or three weeks - everyone is following the news. Yarova predicts that restaurateurs will stick to good locations, as well as places where significant investments have been made, where good repairs have been made.
In addition, the pandemic and subsequent events have made real estate owners themselves more loyal - in case of difficulties for the tenant, for example, when demand and turnover fall, they are more willing to go for discounts or rental holidays than immediately start looking for a replacement.
RestA CEO Ksenia Kevlya suggests that experienced restaurateurs in the coming weeks are likely to "find the necessary tools to overcome difficulties, but most newcomers will not be able to maintain their business."
“Although, probably, restaurateurs will have to revise and simplify not only the range of menus and product matrices, but also the concepts as a whole,” Ksenia Kevlya predicts. “Difficult times await both restaurants and delivery. Catering companies operating in the "upper price segment" will be in an even more difficult situation - the number of "corporate parties" and "castle weddings" with equipment trailers, staff buses, expensive dishes and full-fledged restaurant services will be reduced by several times, if not by orders. Simplification will reach its maximum in the entire HoReCa segment.