Wbg urges hospitality sector to get ready now for bumper summer season

With premises able to serve alcohol indoors from Monday 17th May, and most of mainland Scotland moving to level two of restrictions while the islands move down to level one, accountants Wbg has urged hospitality sector operators to ensure they are ready for a bumper summer season.

From Monday licensed premises can sell alcohol indoors, with two-hour time slots required for bookings. Indoor areas will be allowed to remain open until 10.30pm. Up to six people from a maximum of three households can sit together indoors, with a maximum of eight people from up to eight households allowed in outdoor areas.

In the island communities (excepting Skye), level one will permit premises to remain open until 11pm and serve groups of eight from up to three households and the two-hour time slots for bookings will not be required. Outdoors, a maximum of 12 people from 12 households can sit together.

Catherine Livingstone, head of Wbg’s Food & Beverages team, said: “Hospitality operators will be busy this week preparing for the grand reopening and there are various urgent operational and financial matters they should bear in mind.

“For example, if they have been operating a desktop or manual based accounting system, now might be the time to consider switching to a digital cloud accounting system, such as Xero.”

Providing real-time insight into an operation’s financial figures, with live data hosted in the cloud, Xero gives operators access to their cash flows, transactions and account details from any location at any time with all bank transactions imported and coded automatically.

Ms Livingstone also highlighted staffing as a pressing issue with operators needing to ensure they have adequate staff in place to meet the anticipated demand – whether through recruiting additional staff of bringing back staff from furlough.

“The remaining restrictions will still limit the number of customers outlets are able to cater for, so carefully consideration of staffing requirements is need to ensure operators have flexibility to cope with demand,” she said.

“Operators should also take steps to ensure they are receiving the best financial advice. Do they have cashflow projections in place to make sure they can buy in the stock needed to meet the short-term demand that is forecast?

“It’s also worth considering the longer-term goals in terms of building up cash reserves to pay for any liabilities that may have accrued throughout lockdown with regard to bounce back loans and VAT deferment.

“That’s why I would advise licensees to plan now, have budgets and cash flow forecasts in place to plan for any liabilities accrued during lockdown to be met.”