The Beijing Municipal Market Supervision Bureau said that only 11,500 restaurants in Beijing are now operational, accounting for 13%of the capital's total. Credit: Buzz.

Novel coronavirus is killing China’s restaurants, forcing many to shut temporarily as a cash flow crunch has led many to seek financial bailouts just to survive.

“I am even willing to sell assets like real estate and cars. I’ll try my best to maintain the jobs of my 16,328 employees,” Shu Congxuan, founder and chairman of Chinese fast food chain Home Original Chicken, told the Global Times on Monday.

Shu estimates his company has had losses of at least 500 million yuan (US$71.6 million) as a result of the NCP epidemic so far, with about half of its 800 chain stores temporarily closed, the report said.

“For those in operation, the daily income is about one-fourth of what it was previously, as there are far fewer customers and raw ingredients for cooking can’t be delivered on time as some roads are on lockdown,” he said.

Home Original Chicken’s struggle reflects the dire straits of tens of thousands of restaurants in China, the report said.

The Beijing Municipal Market Supervision Bureau said on Wednesday at a press briefing that only 11,500 restaurants in Beijing are now operational, accounting for 13% of the capital’s total, the report said.

Beijing-based restaurant chain Xibei saw its revenue slump 87% year-on-year during the Chinese Lunar New Year holidays, with 700-800 million yuan in revenue lost during the month, the report said.

The industry requires high liquidity as payrolls, rents and purchase fees are generally fixed costs, the report said. After the latter charges are paid, there is often not much in the way of profit, as many businesses just break even at the end of the month.

To solve the employment issue, domestic internet companies like e-commerce platforms have launched “employee sharing” plans, asking employees from traditional industries that are not currently working to work temporarily at these internet companies.

FreshHema, an online grocery store that specializes in the delivery of fresh produce, had by Monday “rented” 1,800 employees from various companies including Xibei in Beijing, Guangzhou in South China’s Guangdong Province and other cities.

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