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‘We lost £20,000’: Boss of banqueting firm sees bookings plummet

PUBLISHED: 13:16 13 March 2020 | UPDATED: 14:47 13 March 2020

David Robinson, at the Banqueting Hire Service. Bookings are down because of coronavirus. Pic: SUBMITTED

David Robinson, at the Banqueting Hire Service. Bookings are down because of coronavirus. Pic: SUBMITTED

The head of a Norfolk events firm has seen £20,000 wiped off his takings from customer cancellations.

David Robinson, who heads up the Banqueting Hire Service. Pic: ArchantDavid Robinson, who heads up the Banqueting Hire Service. Pic: Archant

David Robinson, director of The Banqueting Hire Service in Tivetshall St Mary, near Diss, which has been going for 40 years, had 20 people ring up and cancel events for this weekend and next. If it gets worse, he reckons he could lose up to 90% of his business.

Included in people cancelling were three brides who decided to cancel their weddings - one postponing her big day in April for an entire year because of the threat of coronavirus.

MORE: Couple to sell £950,000 boutique hotel to move abroad

Other clients include businesses scrapping their corporate lunch events which had items booked including tables and chairs, kitchen equipment and crockery.

'We've lost around £20,000. We do up to 4500 events a year amd we could see 50%-90% of these cancelled, it remains to be seen how bad it's going to get. What if the Norfolk Show gets cancelled? That's massive for us and for the local events industry.'

It comes as other events organisers such as Jonathan Thursby who runs the Epic venue in Norwich, have reported an impact from the coronavirus. Mr Thursby said his venue, in Magdalen Street, has seen ticket sales drop by three quarters in the last week and a higher percentage of no shows at popular events. He had prepared staff for the business having to shut as part of government plans to contain the virus. Meanwhile hoteliers in Norfolk are also feeling the effects of coronavirus with bookings down.

The Banqueting Hire Service provides furniture, crockery and kitchen equipment for major events like weddings but takings are down becaue people are cancelling because of coronavirus. Pic: the Banqueting Hire ServiceThe Banqueting Hire Service provides furniture, crockery and kitchen equipment for major events like weddings but takings are down becaue people are cancelling because of coronavirus. Pic: the Banqueting Hire Service

For Mr Robinson, he doesn't know how badly his business will be affected. 'We will have to get support from the banks if the situation gets that bad. I am matter of fact and there is no one or nothing to blame, and I think Boris Johnson is dealing with it in the right way but we are going to see a lot of financial pain.

'Enquiries and emails have gone very quiet, people are just freezing. I had someone cancel a wedding this morning putting it back until next April.

'I managed this business through a recession but that was different as then people might cut back, they might spend £500 instead of £1000 but with coronavirus, if no one is going to turn up at an event, you're not going to go through with it.'

Mr Robinson, who has been running the business for more than a decade at the base in Thistledown, Station Road, employs about 20 staff but up to 55 at peak times and the firm has a £1.1m turnover.

He said anyone postponing an event would not lose their deposit.

Are you planning a wedding and postponed or cancelled it? Please get in touch by emailing caroline.culot@archant.co.uk

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