There’s no doubt that UK operators have one eye on their meal kit and delivery businesses right now, with the other acutely focused on 3 March, when the government’s Budget 2021 will be set out.

Some small victories have already been felt across the UK, with readers in Scotland seeing a short extension to business rates cuts, which was met with calls for further ongoing financial support, so the rest of the nation’s business owners await Rishi’s announcements with bated breath. Furlough is expected to be extended, though this, of course, has its own costs and drawbacks, and further rates relief will be welcomed across the industry.

Scottish operators have faced some of the harshest operating restrictions in the UK since the virus reached our shores 12 months ago, so I caught up with Tom Kitchin as we entered 2021. Head to page 14 to hear about how he unexpectedly found himself as the mouthpiece for Scottish hospitality, what his hopes are for the next generation of chefs entering the industry amid the pandemic and how he’s been supporting suppliers, students and local charities.

If you were a regular reader of Casual Dining Magazine, then you’ll be familiar with our Industry 100 report, which we’ve put together again this year on page 18. Find out who’s been restructuring, hiring, expanding, diversifying, and creating new concepts in the past year in our 100-strong, operator-led snapshot of the sector. 

And for readers who might be experiencing Zoom meeting fatigue, we’ve been livening things up for operators with virtual tasting sessions in our new, exclusive Drinks Buyers Club (page 34)

The government’s approach to devising roadmaps to recovery according to calendar dates and not against new case numbers has been widely criticised for the dramatic effects inevitable U-turns have on business planning (Christmas 2020, anyone?). Let’s hope that both the upcoming Budget and any further announcements regarding our cherished industry reopening safely have people and pragmatism at their centre.   

Rosanna Spence