Bidcorp bets on return of eating out

Bidcorp believes consumers will continue dining out after a period of lockdown and this should support sales in the new financial year, its chief executive said on Wednesday.

The company reported an almost 50% fall in full-year profit as the coronavirus pandemic forced hospitality businesses to close and upended eating habits, with people buying more food online and cooking at home.

But the CEO of the food services firm, Bernard Berson, said there was a growing desire to go out to eat again.

“Maybe they’ll like the normality of staying at home for a while but in our opinion and backed by our sales numbers, that has worn out very quickly.”

Overall activity levels have returned to 85% to 90% of pre-Covid-19 levels with several businesses now achieving growth higher than the comparative period a year ago, the firm said.

Investors rewarded the South African company for its positive outlook, pushing its shares up 7.56% by 1151 GMT.

Avior Capital Markets food and retail analyst Jiten Bechoo said although sales were still down an average 10% year-on-year, the market had expected worse given the severity of the pandemic in most of Bidcorp’s geographies.

Bidcorp, which operates in Europe, the United Kingdom, Australasia and emerging markets, moved into areas such as home delivery to mitigate lost sales from hotels, restaurants, leisure and travel-related businesses during coronavirus lockdowns.

Bidcorp is still increasing its market share as competitors struggle or exit the industry, and hopes to take advantage of consolidation opportunities as they arise, Berson said.