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How grab-and-go food chains are adjusting to coronavirus reality



NEW YORK/LONDON (Reuters) – Restaurants devoted mainly to quick bites and drinks are reconfiguring their businesses to limit traffic in tight quarters and maintain coronavirus social distancing.

Starbucks Corp (SBUX.N), Dunkin’ Brands Group Inc (DNKN.O), Peet’s Coffee and British bakery-cafe chain Greggs PLC (GRG.L) have been forced to rethink how to serve customers quickly while keeping staffers safe and still make enough money to operate.

At Peet’s Coffee, the U.S. chain owned by JDE Peet’s JDEP.AS, 191 of the 250 company-operated stores had reopened as of Thursday. But customers aren’t allowed inside.

“We moved all of the tables to the front of the store, blocking the entrance,” said Mary Dusenbury, senior director of retail marketing at Peet’s. Registers and chip readers were also moved to the front, so customers can perform their own credit-card transactions, with chip pads wiped down after each guest. In Britain, where Greggs has been testing reopenings at 20 locations, only one adult customer may enter at a time. The menu features fewer salads, and only credit cards and other non-cash payments are accepted.

After closing 2,050 stores in March, it hopes to reopen 800 stores from June 18.

The chains aim to keep at least six feet of space both between staffers working behind the counter and between customers lining up at the door.

But it is not clear that customers will be prepared to wait in long socially distanced queues outside, even to get one of Greggs’ popular vegan sausage rolls, which had helped fuel an 80% rise in Gregg’s share price before the crisis hit.

Companies’ profit margins will be squeezed this year by extra costs for employee hazard pay, cleaning and protective gear, as well as lower sales.

That could lead restaurants to raise some menu prices, said Alex Susskind, a professor at the School of Hotel Administration at Cornell University.

However, with restaurants having already hiked menu prices over the last few years and cash-strapped consumers likely unable to pay more, “passing along price increases is going to be very difficult,” said David Portalatin, a food analyst at The NPD Group.

To keep customers from lingering, chains are encouraging using cell phone apps to order and pay or opting for drive-thru or delivery.

In China, delivery and mobile ordering at Starbucks made up 15% or all orders in January when the crisis was spreading. Mobile orders peaked at 80% in February but remained at 27% in late March, according to a McKinsey & Co report on May 19.

More than 98% of Starbucks locations are open in China, and more than 90% of its company-owned U.S. locations are expected to be open by early June under modified operations and hours.

There are signs the new strategies are working.

Starbucks in late May said it had regained nearly two-thirds of its comparable U.S. stores sales from the prior year, and in China it said comparable-store sales reached about 80% of the prior year levels. The U.S. and China are the company’s two largest markets.

Greggs has begun to test delivery through Just Eat (TKWY.AS) and pickup through Click & Collect. But analysts are skeptical.

Most of its outlets are tiny, making it a challenge to keep staff and customers far enough apart. Selling in the high volumes Greggs needs to make its model work could also prove difficult.

“Queueing at 2 meters distance outside the store is going to lose its novelty very quickly for even the biggest sausage roll addict,” said Peel Hunt analyst Jonathan Pritchard.

Reporting and photo: Reuters


Maldives Association of Tourism Industry (MATI) holds its 34th Annual General Meeting



The Maldives Association of Tourism Industry (MATI) held its 34th Annual General Meeting at Kurumba Maldives today, with a total of 100 members in attendance. 

The day’s events began with a welcome address from the Chairman of MATI, Mr. Mohamed Umar, who also presided over the session. The agenda included an address from the Secretary General, Mr. Ahmed Nazeer, the review and approval of the minutes of the 33rd AGM, the review and adoption of the Annual Report and Financial Reports for 2023, the approval of the 2024 budget, the appointment of auditors for 2024, the welcoming of new members and election of executive board members to the two vacant positions (by-election).

In the member discussion session, the following topics were covered: the Government’s aim to reach net-zero emissions by 2023 and renewable energy generation in the Tourism Industry, new terminal of Velana International Airport and developments, employment challenges, the Industrial Relations Act and trade unions, environmental conservation and the significance of creating and executing efficient management plans for protected areas like the South Ari Marine Protected Area (SAMPA).

Following the official proceedings, the Minister of Tourism Hon. Ibrahim Faisal and the Minister of Economic Development and Trade Hon. Mohamed Saeed joined the forum. The Ministers provided remarks and engaged in a Member Q&A session. This session provided members with the chance to directly engage with the Ministers and delve into crucial industry topics. The queries focused on the Economic Outlook, forthcoming development plans and  immediate challenges and issues affecting the Tourism Industry.

A video presentation was also showcased that delved into the extensive work undertaken by MATI in 2023. The video also touched upon the Tourism Industry’s performance over the past 5 years, as well as the current and projected human resource capacity of the sector.

In his closing remarks, the Secretary General highlighted the importance of collaborative efforts in addressing industry challenges and called for greater unison amongst industry stakeholders, ending with an acknowledgement of the promising start to the year in terms of arrivals.

Executive Board Members elected to the 2 vacant positions (by-election):

  1. Ibrahim Shareef, CEO and Managing Director of Maldives Airports Company Limited
  2. Renato De Olivera, General Manager of The Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands and representative of Marriott International
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Unlocking power of travel storytelling at Travel Creators Exchange 2024



Join us for the Travel Creators Exchange 2024, taking place on February 1, 2024, at the Hotel Jen in Male’, Maldives.

This dynamic event provides a platform for networking and collaboration among Maldives-based travel creators, fostering connections, idea-sharing, and the establishment of lasting partnerships to expand opportunities and monetise content.

Our lineup of distinguished speakers includes:

  • Zihuny Rasheed, Deputy Managing Director of MMPRC, will present on “Power of Digital Storytelling: Collaborative Strategies for Destination Promotion.” MMPRC actively markets the Maldives globally, utilising a comprehensive approach that includes travel trade shows, roadshows, digital marketing, and more.
  • Amjad Thaufeeg, Commercial Director of Kuda Villingili Maldives Resort, brings over 23 years of hospitality industry experience. He will discuss “The Role of Content in Tourism Marketing,” drawing on expertise in revenue, customer service, sales & marketing, and human capital development.
  • Suresh Dissanayake, Assistant Vice President of Sales & Marketing of Heritance Aarah & Adaaran Resorts, with nearly two decades of experience, will shed light on “What does a Sales and Marketing Director Do?” He brings extensive luxury hospitality experience and a proven track record in sales, distribution, and marketing.
  • Vishal Amir Ahmed, a versatile cinematographer and content creator, will explore “Who is a Content Creator.” Currently associated with Various Arts Studio, he specialises in providing multimedia solutions to various clients.

Organised by Maldives Insider, Maldives Virtual Tour, Travel Trade Maldives, and Hotelier Maldives, this collaborative effort aims to empower Maldives-based travel content creators and elevate the Maldives as a premier destination for captivating travel storytelling.

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Acclaimed contemporary artist Ana Pušica explores perpetuality and community at Patina Maldives



Ana Pušica Kramer, an internationally  acclaimed contemporary artist, joins Patina Maldives for an exclusive  art residency in the now infamous Fari Art Atelier. From January 22 to  February 22, 2024, Ana Pušica will grace the shores of the Fari Islands,  weaving a vibrant narrative of colour and emotion across her larger  than-life canvases. 

Her artistry transcends boundaries, melding abstraction and figuration into awe-inspiring masterpieces. Having exhibited globally, from New York to Beijing, Ana’s paintings are a physical, intuitive act rooted in movement.  Described as a “beautiful fluorescent thunderstorm,” Ana’s art explores light and colour, capturing the energy of life itself. 

The Fari Art Atelier which has previously hosted the likes of Daniel Arsham, Chris Stamp and David Nott, will be transformed into Ana’s studio and gallery showcasing her enthralling artworks—a mesmerising journey through poetry, memory, and the vibrant interplay of colour. Guests at Patina are invited to delve into Ana’s world, where each stroke reveals layers of meaning, evoking sensations of intense lightness and boundless interpretation. 

At Patina Maldives, Ana will immerse herself in a month-long residency, inviting the Patina Malidves community or guests and team to witness her artistic fervour firsthand. Guests will have the rare opportunity not only to observe her creative process but also to engage with and create art alongside this luminary.

Experience artistry at its most exclusive

Art Exhibition
Experience Ana’s captivating exploration of colour and emotion in her spellbinding artworks displayed at the Fari Atelier.

Art Workshops: Message in a Bottle
As part of a collaborative artwork, Ana invites Patina guests to participate in short workshops, actively contributing to the creation of a permanent installation at Patina Maldives.

Open Studio Session
Join Ana for an exclusive open studio session, offering guests a behind the-scenes look at her creative process.

Ana Pušica residency package
Discover a world where creativity knows no bounds as Ana Pušica, the maestro of contemporary art, transforms Patina Maldives into an immersive canvas of inspiration.

Book now to secure your experience.
For more information and reservations, please visit Patina Maldives or contact

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