we could just get something off the VAT, even if it drops to 17.5%, it would help offset some of the other rising costs. “We’ve put our prices up, but there’s a limit of how much you can go up when you’re selling at the lower end of the price market. We just can’t keep passing costs on to the customer.” Traditional The Blue Lagoon has developed a very distinct style of decor over the years, characterised by its bright neon lights and a tropical theme. In amongst this boldness, is still a traditional approach, with Simone shying away from the urge to invest in technology, such as self- service screens and apps. “Anytime I pass a McDonald’s or Burger King, I stop and I can see why they’ve done what they have done because they don’t need as many people to do a job,” he says. “We’ve not taken that step yet, a lot of our customers are the older generation so we would be a little bit wary to go overly technical at this stage, but as time passes, you never know. We’re quite old school in our service, I suppose. In our takeaway, you walk up to the counter, a human being will serve you, you sit in for something to eat, and someone will come to your table and provide table service. So we’re quite labour-heavy, but we’re hoping that is

something that attracts people to us.” Having built up a healthy business, Blue Lagoon is in a sound enough position financially where, despite the current challenges, it can invest when opportunities arise. Its most recent has been the purchase of a newsagents next to its takeaway in Gordon Street allowing it to expand into a 70-seater restaurant with a takeaway. “We’ve always found that if you invest in a shop, you’ll get it back over time. “With Gordon Street, we took the long- term view that we’ve been at that site for 15 years anyway so we knew it well enough to know that, albeit a gamble, it’s one worth taking. We knew what the flow of people was like, we knew the income we had there, the turnover that we had currently. It was more of an educated guess than had we been going somewhere completely new.” With its 16th store due to open at the end of this year in Renfield Street, Glasgow, Simone

help, he believes the industry desperately needs to cut business rates and VAT. “There’s not much we can do. The lights have to go on, the pans have to be on otherwise you’re shut. But £1,500 a month, that’s, £15,000 at the end of the year right off your bottom line, that could be your profit margin there. “It’s ridiculous that business rates have just bounced straight back up to 100% as if nothing ever happened. Some of the rates we pay on some of the sites are unbelievably unfair. It’s such a stranglehold around businesses. And if

says further shops are on the cards. “We will keep opening if the right

opportunities come up and as long as that base is looking good and things are running okay. We’ll continue to open sensibly though, we will never be a company that will open 10 shops in a row. At the most we might do two back-to-back to each other but no more than that.”



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