MPM Catering, trading as Cook Street, a volume caterer in the street food sector has been placed into administration only weeks after celebrating five years in business. The unfortunate demise of the company signals an underlying difficulty for many smaller operators facing a challenging business environment.
Whilst some of the bigger names in hospitality and catering have been reporting stable and good business results, many smaller businesses are seeing trading difficulties. This is underlined by the number of licensed premises in the UK experiencing trading difficulties. Depending on which report/reports you review the consensus is that circa 3,000 licensed premises closed over the last 12 months.
This total includes many restaurants, and whilst some high profile chain restaurants maintain a positive outlook, many casual dining brands and smaller operators struggle. Casual dining attracts diners from the middle income bracket, where spending has reduced, and competition for that spending has increased.
Creating a dining proposition with a true USP that resonates with a sufficient volume of diners to maintain a healthy margin in both an art and a science, a delicate balance that needs constant attention.
The street food scene in the UK has seen significant growth over recent years and mostly from operators with single units and very low overhead costs.
Operating a fleet of street food catering outlets on trailers like Cook Street did is a costly business , and one that competes with the previously mentioned operators of single units with low overhead costs.
The marketing of the Cook Street business made some very bold statements about ‘taking the country by storm’ and ‘changing attitudes to food’. On the day to day experiences of single outlets that may well have been the ‘vibe’ received. But, in one of the most dynamic and fast moving sectors in hospitality and catering, was it a true reflection of UK consumers.
Auditors Mazars are now in charge of realising the sale of the business’ assets.