The Maharashtra government further eased restrictions on Monday as the number of COVID-19 cases continues to decline. Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has issued a directive to prepare guidelines for extending the working hours of shops and restaurants. Currently, restaurants are allowed to function till 10 pm.
In an interview with CNBC-TV18, Anjan Chatterjee, CMD of Speciality Restaurants, and Kumar Rajagopalan, CEO of Retailers Association of India, spoke about the business and what it means for the industry.
Rajagopalan said the October 18 announcement is significant and the extension of operating hours suggests that things are moving towards normalcy.
“It’s significant on two grounds. One, it tells consumers things are going back to normalcy and as the number of hours for opening increases, it creates the right signal for everybody. We are approaching the Diwali shopping season and therefore, it’s essential to create the right indication. Second, the longer the number of hours, the better it is for consumers and the easier it is for stores to work along with the consumers to get their shopping needs taken care of. So it’s a welcome decision,” he said.
Rajagopalan said businesses recovered 96 percent of the pre-COVID-19 number in September. “We are almost towards 2019 numbers that are pre-COVID-19 numbers. In some cases, the business has grown over 2019,” he said, adding that it’s more to do with the sense of cheer in the minds of consumers and the thought that things can get back to normal.
Chatterjee, on the other hand, said, there has been a massive demand for revenge consumption and the extension of restaurant hours is a big positive. He welcomed the move and said that 40 percent of the business comes from Mumbai.
Talking about the business, he said, “We were in the mode of survival. We didn’t know how long it will take for us to live or not live. Fortunately, we are a debt-free company. I am very confident about the brands. We did cloud kitchens, kitchens within the kitchen. So the more to the volume, the better the bottom line coming in and with the kind of footfall and revenge eating that is showing, however, I can’t give a specific number but our EBITDA will be like never before and I am confident that we are going on the right track and we will be doing better going forward.”
For the entire discussion, watch the accompanying video
(Edited by : Kanishka Sarkar)