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Christophe Diederich from Concept+Partners says future expansion of the group has been put on hold.
Photo: Christophe Diederich
As part of our Summer like no other series, CEOs discuss their company’s covid-19 experience and post-confinement strategy. Christophe Diederich from Concept+Partners tells Paperjam’s Mathilde Obert how the restaurant group is coping.
Christophe Diederich has opened a range of restaurants since he co-founded Concept+Partners, in 2013 with Jérôme Bigard. The group’s establishments include Hitch on the Glacis, Fabrik in Mersch, Schräinerei in Differdange and Brauhaus in the centre of Luxembourg City. It currently employs 170 people, but future expansion has been put on hold by covid-19, according to its CEO.
Mathilde Obert: After several months of covid-19 closures, are you back to normal at all 13 Concept+Partners restaurants?
Christophe Diederich: There are restaurants that are running at 40% of usual turnover, and others around 90%. Restaurants in Kirchberg or in the city centre are having a hard time because so many people are teleworking. On the other hand, the premises where we include some sort of nightlife have been very active. Between June and December, we estimate that we will still lose 30% of sales compared to the same period last year.
Not counting April and May, when there was no activity. We did set up take-away services, but that was a drop in the ocean and certainly not enough to save us.
What strategy can save you?
We’ve seen a fear of going back inside the restaurants, even though people can easily sit on the terrace. We have put in place all the measures the government has asked for to make customers feel reassured. We have also introduced something that customers have really appreciated: from Thursday to Saturday, a DJ plays from 8pm to midnight in our establishments to add a little atmosphere. This is adapted to the virus, but still makes it possible to party, even if people have to be seated in groups of only up to 10 people.
Has the crisis also accelerated your digitization?
Yes. We made all our menus accessible via a QR code. It’s an interesting tool that allows the customer to visualize what they’re going to eat. I think that this system will survive the crisis and that we will not return to traditional printed menus.
Before the crisis, you were looking to expand by opening new restaurants. What’s happening with these projects?
We were in negotiation phases. We were asked to create restaurants in the Cloche d’Or and in the Infinity complex in Kirchberg. We stopped everything to consolidate and try to save all the restaurants we have. We are still in the rescue phase.
When do you think you will be able to launch new investments?
We are hoping for mid-2021, but everything is linked to the virus and to when normal life will resume.