Jane Ingleby talks with Ben Lamb and Sarah Molloy about the region’s leisure and hospitality sector and the effects of the pandemic.
As the effects of the pandemic continue to subside, what are some of the challenges that the leisure sector is now likely to face?
Despite the UK returning to some level of normality, the pressures on the leisure sector haven’t gone away. For those based in city and town centre locations, the lack of footfall due to some office workers continuing to work from home and the reluctance of some to return to bars and restaurants, is causing huge reductions in income.
With the moratorium on rent having ended last month, it is likely that tough negotiations will continue to be a key issue as landlords seek to recover rents while tenants look for flexibility and concessions in order to alleviate some of the financial pressure of the last two years. Communication will continue to be key going forward.
To some extent the “tsunami” of the pandemic has masked other underlying problems such as those related to the impact of Brexit, which are also now coming to light. For example, with many workers returning to the EU, struggles to recruit and retain staff are causing issues across the sector, particularly when coupled with COVID-related absences. This situation is also pushing up rates of pay and increasing demands for greater flexibility from employers. Consequently, our colleagues in the employment team are seeing more businesses needing support as they seek Sponsor Licences from the Home Office to allow them to recruit from overseas.
These were just some of the challenges discussed at a seminar that we, together with LeedsBID, held earlier this year which brought together a panel of experts who shared insights and advice on how best to navigate the current difficult landscape. With uncertainties clearly remaining, we are working closely with our leisure clients to help them adjust to rapidly changing circumstances.
What positive impact do you feel the pandemic has had on the sector?
There’s no doubt that despite the hospitality industry being among the most severely
affected by the turmoil of the pandemic, the fast-changing leisure landscape has resulted in nimble businesses spotting new opportunities. From the introduction of takeaways and home deliveries to the move to online or hybrid events and the launch of new businesses and outlets, the resilience and adaptability of businesses in the sector must be recognised and admired. Many have taken the opportunity to re-think their offering and adapt to provide a more exciting and customer-focused product or service and, as a result, we’re being kept busy supporting the acquisition of new sites for many of our real estate clients!
Innovation and diversification in many cases have been the key to success, but how do business owners make sure new ideas have been protected properly?
With so many leisure businesses having had to think creatively in order to survive, there’s no doubt that successful brand diversification is likely to stay as consumers have embraced the convenience of these new services. However, if businesses are to reap the rewards of their innovation, they must take stock and assess whether they have in place the right protection to safeguard their new products and services from its competitors. A new brand or sub-brand may have been created, a new logo or strapline may now be being used to promote the new goods and services offered. If this is the case, then you should consider protecting your new products and services by way of a registered trademark – it is a valuable commercial asset which is a useful deterrent against possible infringers and is relatively easy and cost effective to obtain.
To learn more about Clarion and all the work that they do visit their website at: https://www.clarionsolicitors.com/
Or follow their twitter @ClarionLaw or their linkedin at @ClarionSolicitors