RFG buoyed by customer numbers as COVID-19 restrictions ease

By Sarah Stowe | 29 May 2020 View comments

Retail Food Group is cautiously optimistic about hospitality trends as customer numbers gradually increase with the easing of COVID-19 restrictions.

Executive chairman Peter George said the trend could be seen in recent trading data for the company’s Donut King, Gloria Jean’s and Michel’s Patisserie networks.

“Customer count declines versus the previous corresponding period had approximately halved since a peak decline exceeding 50 per cent during the reporting week ending 2 April 2020,” he said.

Store reopenings across the networks have been good news.

“We are buoyed by the reopening of c.60 outlets which had temporarily closed due to the impact of COVID-19 restrictions and are cautiously optimistic that trading conditions will continue to improve in coming weeks.”

George said about 290 outlets had benefited from rent relief over April and May. Negotiations continue for other franchisees.

“We anticipate that this process will be an ongoing one as the pandemic period persists and a reasonable recovery period is provided for,” George said.

COVID-19 impact hits international stores

RFG revealed its international franchise network is still significantly impacted by coronavirus restrictions.

In the UK and New Zealand while 126 mobile units have begun trading again it’s a more challenging situation for bricks and mortar stores.

About 350 traditional outlets remain closed, a further 157 are restricted to takeout only, and the balance continue to operate normally, albeit subject to difficult trading conditions.

The good news is that RFG expects many of the temporarily shuttered outlets to reopen throughout June as local government restrictions ease.

In other international markets the closure of about 20 Gloria Jean’s stores will be permanent.

George reiterated that trading challenges remain.

“The strategies previously advised to the market regarding the company’s efforts to reduce its cost base, including restructure of RFG’s wholesale coffee operations which was now substantially complete, provide the Group with increased scope to further support its franchisees during these unprecedented times,” George said.