This article is a part of our Appetite for Destruction feature, a series of interviews conducted by That’s staff to examine the impact of the novel coronavirus on China’s food and beverage industry. For more articles from this series, click here.
Ignace Lecleir – Beijing
Owner and Founder of TRB Hospitality Group
Originally from Brugge, Belgium, Ignace Leclair has been working in the hospitality industry for a very, very long time. He moved to Beijing in 2007 and now runs the TRB Hospitality Group, which consists of four restaurants: TRB Hutong, TRB Forbidden City, Hulu by TRB and Merci French Food TRB. Below, Leclair shares his thoughts on the impact the novel coronavirus is having on Beijing’s F&B scene:
How has the current situation impacted your businesses?
The impact has been severe. I have had to temporarily close all of the TRB outlets except for Hulu by TRB at Taikooli, which is running a low occupancy at the moment.
What measures have your businesses taken to mitigate the damage caused by the prolonged CNY holiday and the ongoing coronavirus outbreak?
I launched Hulu Delivery on Wednesday, February 6. From A to Z, the entire process is done by the Hulu team, including delivery to ensure safety and quality. As the demand for delivery is growing significantly during this period of time, I am trying my best to supply and help local communities and customers as much as possible.
More generally, how has the outbreak impacted the F&B industry in Beijing, based on your observations?
From the conversations I’ve had so far with peers and colleagues from the F&B industry in Beijing, many restaurants are facing the same difficult situation that we are at the moment.
How long do you think it will take for the F&B business in Beijing to recover from this crisis?
Hopefully I am wrong, but my assumption is that it’s likely to take from three to six months until the market is recovered.
What could be the possible positive outcomes of this disease outbreak for Beijing’s F&B community going forward?
[This] obstacle definitely forces us to think outside of the box and find new solutions every day. It enables businesses to grow and become wiser and stronger.
Responses have been edited for clarity and brevity.
[Cover image via Ignace Lecleir]