There is no doubt that the hospitality industry is currently facing major challenges as a result of the corona measures imposed. Since mid-March, all hospitality businesses in Belgium have had to close their doors temporarily, causing a major financial challenge. In all likelihood, it will be some time before things go back to normal in the industry, even after the measures are relaxed.
The financial problems encountered are being partly offset by various government support measures. A lot of entrepreneurs in the hospitality industry have also been proactive, and using some creativity have found alternative sources of income to keep their business running during the lockdown. We can only applaud these forms of alternative entrepreneurship. However, it is also important to take into account the applicable regulations for these additional activities. That's why we are taking a moment here to consider points of attention for hospitality business offering takeaway food and gift vouchers.
Takeaway meals and/or home meal delivery
- Takeaway or delivery of meals must be interpreted in the strict sense of the term. Customers must not be able to consume the meal on site in any way;
- Inform your customers that you will continue to offer meals in a different way (takeaway or delivery) via digital channels: your website, Facebook page, email list, other social media channels, etc. That way, your company remains in the picture;
- Ordering meals can be organized in many ways: via your website, by email, telephone, etc.;
- If your catering business is mainly aimed at adults, it may be important to temporarily provide dishes for children too, so you can reach a much larger target group and people will be more inclined to order a meal for the whole family;
- Respond to the need for local products and use products from local suppliers. Stronger together.
- The prices of meals should not be lower than the normal prices on the menu. After all, the quality of the preparation remains the same;
- In addition to the price of the dish, it is also important to monitor the normal margin (revenue/cost of sales). This means you’re still creating the same added value during this exceptional period;
- Because of the temporary closure and the reduced turnover, certain drinks and food may not be consumed before they expire. You can also be creative here, by organising actions or promotions to reduce your stock, e.g. by also offering special drinks for takeaway.
VAT & certified cash register system
- Takeaway meals and home deliveries are regarded as a pure supply of goods for VAT purposes. As a result, different VAT rates apply:
- 6% on the supply of food and non-alcoholic beverages.
- 21% on the supply of alcoholic beverages and certain luxury products.
- Any delivery costs charged may always be allocated to the lowest VAT rate of the delivery;
- If a certified cash register system (SCE-GKS) is used in the hospitality establishment, all transactions for takeaways and deliveries must be done on this system. Every customer still needs to receive a SCE-GKS receipt (also known as ticket). So nothing changes in this respect. You do not need to keep an additional diary of receipts, therefore;
- If no certified cash register system is used in the hospitality establishment because there was no obligation to do so before the lockdown, it is not necessary to issue a VAT receipt to customers for deliveries and takeaway meals. However, each sale must be recorded individually in a diary of receipts;
- All HACCP standards must still be respected, even when meals are only provided for takeaway or delivery;
- If the hospitality business did not offer takeaway meals or delivery service before the corona crisis, these new (temporary) activities do not have to be reported to the Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain (FASFC) but the applicable hygiene regulations must of course still be respected. For an overview of these regulations, please refer to the FAQ specifically published by the FASFC for this purpose;
- It is important to always communicate clearly which allergens are present in the meals provided. The FASFC requires this notification to be made either in writing, e.g. by mentioning it on the online menu or by putting a label on the meal itself, or by informing the customer verbally. However, it is always recommended to do this in writing;
- One possible way to partially compensate for the loss of income is to highlight the sale of vouchers issued by your hospitality business. This is an important way to strengthen your customer loyalty and it allows you to surprise your customers, for example, with a new menu as soon as your business can be reopened. What's more, you get some of your future income now, at a time when you need it most;
- Make it easier for your customers to buy a gift voucher from your business and join the #horecacomeback initiative set up by industry federations and partners. The guarantee fund completely removes any uncertainties for interested parties;
- Link a fun action to the purchase of the gift voucher, to make sure your customers have something to look forward to.
Accounting & fiscal aspects
- Issuing a gift voucher does not always mean that VAT is owed immediately, as it depends on the type of gift voucher. Be sure to contact us to find out what category the vouchers being issued belong to and what the VAT rules are;
- Income from gift vouchers sold should be recorded in the SCE-GKS. The method of recording is important, so it is best to establish how best to do this in advance with your account manager;
- Keep a list of gift vouchers issued and their expiry date so that they can be traced, both for practical and accounting purposes.
Flanders Innovation & Entrepreneurship has launched the website koopinjebuurt.be together with self-employed organisations. This platform is an online meeting place where consumers can find local entrepreneurs. You can register your business for free and you do not need to have a webshop or be a member of one of the organisations. This is ideal if you want to boost the local visibility of your business.
If you need help or advice in order to benefit from one of the above measures, we will gladly assist you. You can contact us by phone at 051 26 82 68 or by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.