FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Mango Tree CEO Trevor Macken­zie has some words of en­cour­age­ment for the F&B sec­tor

CEO Middle East - - CON­TENTS -

SO LET ME START BY SAY­ING IT GETS

bet­ter! And it truly does. And that is say­ing it from the per­spec­tive of some­one with over 30 years of be­ing an en­tre­pre­neur and hav­ing presided over 20 open­ings in the restau­rant busi­ness. I have never faced any­thing like this ei­ther, but I still want to say that things will get bet­ter.

We can look at a sit­u­a­tion as a dis­as­ter, as or we choose to look at it as a tem­po­rary re­set. A ‘big­ger pic­ture’ mind­set can be a use­ful cop­ing mech­a­nism, but also a gen­uine op­por­tu­nity to stop for a mo­ment and to con­sider where hu­man­ity is go­ing and how fren­zied we have be­come in our lives.

You may be won­der­ing why I am so pos­i­tive in a time like this. Well, there are a few rea­sons. One is that at the time of writ­ing, in East Asia, we have al­ready been go­ing through this for around nine weeks. There is a cau­tious feel­ing that we are start­ing to see the light at the end of the tun­nel even de­spite a sec­ond wave of new cases with peo­ple re­turn­ing to Asia from places that are now get­ting in­fected.

In China, restau­rants have been slowly re­open­ing, in­clud­ing Mango Tree. Mean­while, in Hong Kong, we got pos­i­tive news that our Mango Trees are see­ing sales start to climb 5 - 10 per­cent week on week. Land­lords have re­alised that they have to help op­er­a­tors sur­vive by im­ple­ment­ing dras­tic rental re­duc­tions. They un­der­stand that they can ei­ther choose to work to­gether or have spa­ces empty for a long time af­ter­wards. In other places where we have Mango Tree, such as in the Philip­pines, we closed ev­ery­thing for 30 days as a di­rec­tive form the gov­ern­ment. Our MT fran­chise part­ners have no rental, no food cost, no day-to-day op­er­a­tional costs and so cash losses are min­imised, which is pos­i­tive for when we even­tu­ally get back on our feet. In Dubai, sim­i­lar to our home in Thai­land, restau­rants stayed open with mea­sures for dis­tanc­ing, be­fore ul­ti­mately clos­ing for home de­liv­ery only. In Thai­land, we have

been launch­ing takeaway pro­mo­tions for $2, which are more about help­ing peo­ple than mak­ing big money, but helps us in cre­at­ing cash­flow to be able to pay em­ploy­ees.

Every sin­gle per­son in the world will be af­fected fi­nan­cially and will need to play their part to help. We can­not ex­pect gov­ern­ment to do it all for us and in many coun­tries gov­ern­ments are not set up this way. How­ever, let’s hope that gov­ern­ments learn from this to cre­ate stronger sup­port sys­tems for the fu­ture.

As we are see­ing tem­po­rary clo­sures in our restau­rants world­wide, our HQ work­load has sub­stan­tially re­duced, so we have taken this op­por­tu­nity to re­view our foun­da­tions and make them stronger and bet­ter. From on­line train­ing to teach­ing our part­ners about new ways to gen­er­ate rev­enue , to strength­en­ing our on­line pres­ence and de­liv­ery mod­els, there is plenty to fo­cus on, and that must be true of most busi­nesses and in­dus­tries. This com­pletely un­ex­pected sit­u­a­tion has forced us to look at things in a new way, and has forced all of us to re­think how we will go for­ward af­ter this cri­sis.

I was re­cently in­spired by the New York mayor’s speech where he said “It is time for peo­ple to stand up and be lead­ers, lead by ex­am­ple, lead in help­ing those who may be caught in fear, to be calm, lead in com­fort­ing oth­ers, in know­ing that they will be ok and that we will get through this all to­gether.”

My busi­ness coach re­minded me re­cently about the im­por­tance of mean­ing and how it has be­come the new cur­rency. When we do mean­ing­ful things in the world, so­ci­ety, com­mu­nity, and even in our own home, it is worth much more than money, and we should not place a value on some­thing like mean­ing or con­tri­bu­tion. I think we should all act as lead­ers now and think how we can each con­trib­ute and add value in the sit­u­a­tion we are in now.

It in­spired me so much that I felt com­pelled to adopt a sim­i­lar ap­proach. I am usu­ally a pos­i­tive per­son who can find the good in every sit­u­a­tion, and I’ve been do­ing my best to in­spire our fran­chise part­ners – to com­mu­ni­cate with their com­mu­ni­ties and to find small ways to do good things to make every­one feel a bit bet­ter. When we feel bet­ter, when we are not in fear, we have the strength to en­dure, and en­durance is im­por­tant right now.

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