Simcha suppliers band together in bid to support events industry
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Simcha suppliers band together in bid to support events industry

Firms providing everything from kosher catering and music to floral and photography services are in early stages of setting up group to lobby MPs and influencers for help

Credit: The Crawleys
Credit: The Crawleys

Simcha suppliers have rallied together to attack the government’s restrictions on the events industry.

It is understood that suppliers are now in the preliminary stages of setting up a collective group to lobby MPs and influencers to do more to support the industry and prevent their companies going bust.

Figures from the kosher catering, music, floral and photography businesses have said they need “more support” after restrictions were extended this month as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kosher caterer Ben Tenenblat, who has lost close to £1.2m in revenue this year from cancelled or postponed charity functions and simchas, has called on the government to extend the furlough scheme beyond October, when the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is due to end.

“All our staff are relevant, especially if we ever plan on returning to some form of normality. If we make our staff redundant now, we won’t be able to trade in the future. At the same time, we have no work coming in,” said Mr Tenenblat, whose business has adapted with home deliveries and a catering trailer attending some events and synagogue sites.

“We can adapt to a degree, but not enough to warrant the overheads we currently have in place. Cash flow is a massive issue. We need more support.”

Credit: The Crawleys

While he does not envisage large social ballroom events being held before a vaccine programme becomes available across the UK, he said: “We should be able to have more control over the events as a professional body. with the correct risk assessments social distancing procedures in place.”

Florist Miri Moses, whose company is based in Stamford Hill and Golders Green, said the government could do more to ease the burden put on the events industry.

She said: “I worked so hard to build my business and I don’t understand why we can’t be a little more sensible and instead of having venues with 500 people, we have 50 people with proper social distancing. There must be way.

“We see people crammed on trains, in parks and in restaurants. it would be a lot safer people could still get married and get on with their lives.

“I just feel they could find a way if they wanted to, but they’re not. They don’t care that so many industries are going under.”

Atmotion videography company director Paul Richman, “who has primarily lived off his company’s savings since March, said “the events industry is on its knees”. Mr Richman, who had 40 events affected this year, said potential clients have withheld deposits and tentatively booked multiple dates in 2021, in the hope that restrictions could lift. He described the government’s decision to cut back the number of wedding guests to 15 from 30, as “another big blow. Restaurants allow a lot more than 15 people in with sensible Covid guidelines in place. Surely a wedding or bar/batmitzvah can allow track and trace, take temperatures, ensure face coverings are worn and maintain social distancing?”

He added: “The industry is dying and the government seem to be doing their best to make it even worse.”

Photographer Robert Shack said that before March restrictions, he was fully booked for 2020. “In a space of 16 hours I lost every piece of work I had for the year,” he said, adding: “Which meant without any notice I would not earn any money for the year. Which puts immense pressure on the family as being a limited company I would receive no funding from the government.”

Jeremy Horowitz, director of showband Muzika, had 40 functions postponed internationally, from the UK to Israel, France and Spain – noting that “at some point in early March, the lights went out for our industry”.

Calling for more government support, he said performers had turned to other industries to cover financial losses: “Immensely talented people are having to trade their art, their passion for mundane, underpaid and oversubscribed new job positions.”

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