The growth in demand for takeaways during the pandemic and the reopening of eat-in premises is keeping a Stratford shopfitting specialist busy in a difficult year.
Timothy’s Bridge Road-based ICM says the past few months were ‘crazy’ as food outlets invested in making their premises Covid-secure for diners returning to sit-down eateries before the relaxing of restrictions in the summer.
This year also saw a good deal of interest from takeaway operators benefitting from the growing trend for ‘eating out’ at home.
Global brand Burger King required ICM’s services to reconfigure existing outlets to ensure Covid security and make two reopened branches customer-friendly.
ICM managing director Steve Lewis, whose company specialises in the restaurant and fast-food business, explained: “When the pandemic struck, we went from a really busy business to a zero-turnover operation overnight. But after a difficult 2020 the dust settled and in 2021 we’re very much in demand and looking forward to getting back to full capacity before too long. As well as the traditional takeaway businesses, restaurants started doing home delivery.
“Over the past few months it has been extremely busy. Many food outlets took advantage of the government funding available for businesses and did everything they didn’t do last year.”
ICM has also won new contracts from food operators keen to tap into the rising demand for takeaways. The first nine months of 2020 saw Just Eat orders rise by 27% over the same period the previous year and there has been a rise in the number of ‘dark kitchens’ to feed demand.
New clients include gourmet street food specialist Shoot the Bull, whose eight restaurant locations in the North of England have received the ICM fitout treatment. And the growth in interest in home and garden improvement, fuelling demand for garden centre restaurants, has seen ICM called on to fit out three such premises for national chain British Garden Centres, with plans for more in the coming months.
Steve says the advice and support of Stratford accountancy practice Leigh Graham Associates has been invaluable in helping him ensure the business continues to thrive and expand as the effect of the pandemic eases.
Advice from partner Leigh Day on the existence of government business finance packages to ensure they remained on a stable footing during the initial uncertain weeks of the first lockdown is just one example.
“Leigh is always there when I need her. She directed us towards loans to keep us going in the early days. She let us know about everything that was available,” he said.
Leigh Graham has also helped recruit staff to ICM’s in-house finance team as it has grown over the past two decades.
• Steve Lewis and the team at ICM saw huge demand for their services during the pandemic, and received expert advice on government support funding from Stratford accountancy practice Leigh Graham Associates