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Faced with closing their bar Hope & Sesame in south China in January 2020, owners Andrew and Bastien share useful tips on how they implemented a successful strategy that enabled them to keep their business afloat during difficult times.

Our Challenge

Faced with issues of rent, salary, perishable goods, tax and more, we were despairing at the dire situation. To combat this challenge, we carefully planned out a strategy allowing us to both pay our full rent, and most importantly, pay our staff their full salary. Now, as the situation improves in China and number of new cases drop, we reflect on our journey and how we hope to come out the other end, stronger than ever.

Full Lockdown – What Next?

Around 6 weeks into full lockdown, confirmed cases began to plateau and drop significantly. Restaurants and cafes were slowly allowed to open with 50% of the usual capacity, with strict measures of temperature and travelling history checks at the door implemented. However, other venues, including nightclubs and bars, were not considered “daily essential activities” and therefore, we remained closed.

Thanks to our precisely executed plan, we remained in a financially stable position. We took several actions and set out strategies for revenue, marketing, and cost-saving initiatives.

This included a few steps:

Our takeaway cocktail sales accounted for around 20-30% of our regular income, with 5% additional income coming from merchandise sales. We managed to pay all of our employees in full, pay our entire rent and our suppliers. However, we as owners have forgone all profits.

A New Beginning

Hope & Sesame did reopen recently, eight weeks since lockdown began, along with nightclubs and other entertainment venues aside from cinemas. At this point, we’re focused on bringing our customers back through the door, making up for lost time. We are also reflecting on how our business should be run moving forward. As small business owners, although we are starting to see light at the end of the tunnel, there is another battle looming over us - consumer confidence.

Currently, most venues are allowed to reopen with strict temperature and travelling history checks on customers, and lives will be returning to normal, including work schedules and weekend activities. However, people are cautious about returning to bars and nightclubs.

Going forward we will be taking a range of actions which will include revenue driven initiatives, marketing initiatives, and importantly, safety precautions.

We’re also introducing safety precautions, which include:

A Thank You to All

We want to thank our loyal customers and brands who have supported us during this unusual time. Also not to mention our team who have been our rock and were exceptionally flexible and understanding amidst the uncertainties.

Stay safe and stay strong!

Hope & Sesame

(Amethy, Marcia, Andrew & Bastien)

Key Takeaways:

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