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Tue 13 Jan 2009 04:00 AM

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Time to take resolutions seriously

It's 2009 - a new year is upon us and I'm sure you've been asked several hundred times what resolutions you made this January.

It's 2009 - a new year is upon us and I'm sure you've been asked several hundred times what resolutions you made this January.

Usually, I'm not a great believer in New Year's resolutions; while I rather like the idea of making a pledge for self-improvement, whether that be getting healthy, taking up a new hobby or giving up a bad habit, I'm afraid my revolutionary zeal - and consequently my will power - is normally gone by February.

However this year, in the face of looming economic panic, I am going to break with tradition and recommend that the region's F&B industry players do in fact make a few resolutions for 2009.

Firstly, don't hide your head in the sand.

Admittedly, the Middle East has a hardy economy and has seen few serious effects of the credit crunch so far, in comparison to other countries. In addition, F&B is not an obviously vulnerable market; people still have to eat, don't they?

But, as this month's franchise roundtable participants point out, the effects of the economic slow-down will be felt: it's just a matter of when.

Secondly, get yourself prepared.

Implement money-saving measures across your outlets - check out energy-saving initiatives, cut back on extravagant and unnecessary displays and, as the pros advise in our lean cuisine feature, look to source whatever produce you can locally rather than importing.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, DON'T PANIC. Over the next few years the F&B industry may not reap the staggering profits that it has enjoyed for a while now, but try to think long term.

The region's market place is not only competitive, but downright crowded - and let's face it, not all those players jostling for space are worthy of customers' attention.

As various top industry players point out in this issue, it is time for a shake-down: the industry needs to cut its losses to progress.

There may be a tough 12 months ahead and we may indeed see some F&B casualties fall by the wayside, but ultimately, the industry will emerge from this economic gloom as a trimmer, more impressive market place - just remember to stick to your resolutions in the mean time and good luck to you all for the year ahead!

Lucy Taylor is the editor of Caterer Middle East.

RELATED LINK:When it comes to the crunch, 2009: The year of lean cuisine

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