THE increasing number of chain restaurants in Salisbury is having a devastating effect on local businesses according to a well-known city restaurateur.
Independent traders are finding it tougher than ever to compete with the bulk buying power and huge promotional budgets of well known chains says Andy Grigg, who runs Cranes Wine Café on Crane Street.
Now Mr Grigg is launching a fightback and encouraging others to join his campaign.
“We have decided to match any meal offer available in Salisbury if the customer brings in proof of the deal,” he said.
“Whether it’s two-for-one, or just a percentage price cut, if they bring in the coupon we’ll honour it. It’s a risky strategy for a small company and it’s going to be expensive for us, but we’re taking on the challenge.”
Mr Grigg described the effect of chain restaurants on independent traders as “just like what the supermarkets did to small shops – it’s killing us.”
He explained: “We do well at weekends, but most of these vouchers are valid Monday to Thursday to get people into the big restaurants, so obviously people prefer to go there and we find it very difficult to survive through the early part of the week.
“We source everything locally, so competing with bulk buying is very difficult.
“Their stuff all comes in on refrigerated lorries from all over the country. Security vans take the money away.
“But the money that we earn is spent locally and stays within the city.”
The latest additions to the city’s eateries include Café Rouge, Bill’s and Wildwood, with Nandos on its way.
Steve Dauwalder, owner of La Mollina restaurant and a director of Salisbury’s Business Improvement District project, said vouchers were an indication of the wider economic climate.
“Most of the chains doing vouchers are pizza and pasta restaurants, which produce some of the highest margins in the industry because their meals are 80 per cent carbs,” he said.
He added that some voucher users “challenge themselves to spend as little as possible, for example ordering a jug of tap water with their meal.”
The BID aims to attract shoppers to benefit national and independent businesses. Manager Robin McGowan said: “All will be levy payers into the BID and will each have their promotional strategies. But the BID does help to support independent businesses.”