There is no doubt that the hospitality industry is currently facing great challenges due to the imposed corona measures. Already since mid-March, all hospitality businesses in Belgium have had to temporarily close their doors, which is creating a major challenge financially. It is likely that it will take some time before the sector returns to normal, even after the measures are relaxed.
The financial hindrance experienced is partly offset by various government support measures. Many entrepreneurs in the hotel and catering industry have not thrown in the towel and have, with the necessary creativity, created alternative sources of income that keep their businesses running even 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. Therefore, here we take a brief look at the points for consideration when offering takeout and gift cards.
Takeaway meals and/or home delivery of meals
- It is only permitted to offer meals that are picked up or delivered in the strict sense of the word. The customer may in no way consume the meal on site;
- Let your customers know that you will continue to offer meals in a modified form (takeout or delivery) through digital channels: your own website, the restaurant's Facebook page, mailing, social media, etc. This keeps your business in the picture;
- Ordering can be organized in many ways: through your website, by mail, by phone, etc.
- If your catering business is primarily aimed at adults, it may be important to temporarily provide dishes for children as well. After all, this will reach a much larger target group and lower the barrier to ordering for the entire family;
- Respond to the need for local products and work with products from local suppliers. Strong together.
- The selling price of the dishes should not be reduced compared to the normal price of the dish 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 (turnover/cost of sales). Thus, the same added value is created even during this exceptional period;
- As a result of the temporary closure period and the reduced turnover, it is possible that certain drinks and food will not be consumed in time. This can also be responded to creatively by setting up actions or promotions to reduce the stock of food and drink. E.g. by also offering customized beverages at the takeaway.
VAT & registered cash register
- Takeaway meals and home deliveries of meals are considered a mere supply of goods for VAT purposes. As a result, other VAT rates apply, namely:
- 6% on the supply of food and non-alcoholic beverages.
- 21% on the supply of alcoholic beverages and certain luxury products.
- Any supply cost charged may always be assigned to the lowest VAT rate of the supply;
- If a registered cash register is used in the catering establishment, all withdrawals and deliveries must be registered in this cash register. So every customer still has to receive a GKS ticket. Nothing changes in this respect. There is no need to keep an additional daily receipt book;
- If no registered cash register is used in the catering establishment because there was no obligation to do so before the closure, it is not necessary to issue a VAT receipt to customers for the take-outs and meals served. However, each sale must be recorded individually in the daily receipts ledger;
Regulation of hygiene
- All HACCP standards must be respected permanently, even when only sizes are offered for collection or delivery;
- If the catering establishment did not offer takeaway meals or delivery services before the corona crisis, these new (temporary) activities do not have to be reported to the FASFC but the applicable hygiene regulations must, of course, be complied with on a permanent basis. For an overview of these regulations, we refer you to The FAQ which the FASFC published specifically for this purpose;
- It is important to always clearly communicate which allergens are present in the meals offered. The FASFC requires that this notification either takes place in writing, e.g. by stating it on the digital menu or with a label on the meal itself, or is always communicated to the customer verbally. However, it is always recommended that this is done in writing;
- A possible way to partially compensate for the loss of income is to put extra emphasis on the sale of vouchers in your catering business. It is an important means of strengthening your customer loyalty and it allows you, for example, to surprise your customers with a new menu as soon as your business can be reopened. Moreover, you shift future revenues to an earlier point in time, when you need them the most;
- Lower the threshold for your customers to buy a gift card from your business and join the #horecacomeback initiative set up by the sector federations and partners. The guarantee fund completely removes any uncertainties of interested parties;
- Pair a fun promotion with the purchase of the gift card, that way you have your customers looking forward to something.
Accounting & tax aspects
- Writing out a gift voucher does not always make the VAT immediately due, depending on the type of gift voucher. Be sure to contact us to find out under which category the vouchers being issued fall and what the VAT rules are for them;
- The receipts from the gift vouchers sold must be registered in the GKS. The way in which these are registered is important; it is best to discuss this in advance with your client manager as well;
- Keep a list of gift cards issued and their expiration dates so they can be tracked both practically and accounting-wise.
The Flemish Agency for Innovation & Entrepreneurship, together with self-employed organizations, has launched the website koopinjebuurt.be launched. This platform is an online gathering place where you as a consumer can find local entrepreneurs. You can register your business for free and it is not necessary that you have a webshop or are a member of one of the organizations. Ideal for when you want to give your business more local visibility.