Fans of Comptoirs de France Launch Crowdfund as F&B Industry Brought to Its Knees
Anybody who has walked around Beijing in the last few weeks will have realized that the hospitality sector is taking a huge hit. Once bustling restaurants and entire streets are now quiet, with just a few masked patrons at their tables. As the weeks drag on, the enormity of the economic impact starts to become clear: many businesses will not survive this epidemic.
Even those stalwart businesses, who seem to have been around since forever, are hurting. Comptoirs de France, which was established in China in 2006, derives approximately half of their usual revenue directly from hotels and airlines, two other industries that have also been staggered by the coronavirus, while the rest comes from business in their 12 cafés and bakeries. Now, they are only earning approximately 16 percent of their usual revenue.
But while the Chinese government has been proactive about freeing up lines of funds and enacting favorable loan schemes across the country to help businesses through the crisis, these generally only apply to Chinese-owned enterprises. With the exception of large multi-national corporations, most fully or partially foreign-owned businesses are left to fend for themselves. The bakery is currently ineligible for lines of credit from either the French or Chinese governments, yet still need to pay their suppliers, landlords, and 200 plus locally employed staff.
Despite being one of the most well-known figures within the French community, famous for his hospitality, generosity, and ready laugh, Comptoirs de France founder Benjamin Devos was reluctant to discuss the extent of the business problems with anyone except family and a few close friends. Therefore, the GoFundMe was organized in secret by some of Devos's friends and announced to him as a birthday gift last month. As one of the organizers Anne Kelly put it "We couldn't just sit idly by while 15 years of his life was going down the drain".
The GoFundMe hopes to raise EUR 300,000 (approximately RMB 2,290,000), which will cover salaries and basic operations of the business for just three months. So far, they are at just under EUR 10,000. A tall order indeed, but with their backs to the wall and one of Beijing's best-loved foreign businesses at stake, they see no other choice but to try.
Check out the GoFundMe campaign here.
Comptoirs are offering delivery on all menu items, including free delivery of orders over RMB 88 within 15km of a store.
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Images courtesy of Comptoirs de France