With summer events a no go last year, Moray-based doughnut van operator Ally Pirie fears for his future as the coronavirus bites businesses again.
An events caterer who saw business almost wiped out in 2020 is hugely concerned for the future of his enterprise.
As the country headed into a second Covid-19 lockdown, Ally Pirie, who runs A and Z Delicious Donuts based in Keith, fears that his business won’t survive another dismal summer season.
And he has made a plea for organisers to work more with local vendors and caterers in future.
Without events, and people attending them, Ally worries that a business he one day hoped to hand down to his son will no longer exist.
The 55-year-old, who is one of the longest doughnut caterers in the area having run his van for almost 14 years, would normally attend around 40 outdoor events every year.
However, last year due to the Covid-19 outbreak, not one single event he would usually visit took place, leaving a five-figure-dent in his income for the 12 months.
As a result, working alongside his niece, Danielle, he took the decision to travel around the local area in an effort to bring in enough cash just to stay alive.
“I go to all the shows and with all the shows being shutdown it affected us – and it looks like it’s going to be the same again this year. If shows do go ahead then there will be restricted crowds – can shows afford to go booking things?
“I was going through little towns like Buckie and Keith, an hour and hour-and-a-half just to get some trade which worked away not too bad but it’s too cold just now.
“I had to do something to get some sort of income but it’s nowhere near as much as it should be – a lot of us really rely on the shows.”
Nightmare of pandemic
With competition increasing year on year, the pandemic was the last thing Ally needed.
He continued: “It has also been getting tough with the amount of street food that is available, they are coming into the shows as well and doing a lot of stuff that is similar to mine. If people buy a waffle, then they are not going to buy doughnuts. And some of these businesses are knocking out doughnuts as well.
“The show organisers just want to get the money in for the pitches, they aren’t interested in what people are selling as long as they get the vans in.
“I would like to see event organisers support the caterers in the future because it is going to be a long time before things come back.
“People are currently getting furloughed and once that’s lifted there are going to be a lot of jobs lost and that will mean people won’t have as much money to go to events. If they go to events, they might start taking in packed lunches to save money so I think it’s going to be a real struggle over the next few years.
We will be at Dufftown memorial hall this Saturday between 14 .00 till 16.00 with our donuts 🍩 £10 for 12 and our…
“That is not going to just hit me, that will hit all event caterers,” added Ally who is a regular at Gordon Castle Highland Games, Aberlour Highland Games, Ballater Games and Logan’s Fun Day every year.
“I cover quite a big area. Up here there are four or five doughnut caterers, umpteen big catering companies doing food, so it’s going to hit them as well, everyone is going to be affected.
“And you have all this street food coming in and event organisers need to support the people who have supported them over the years.
“Organisers don’t need to be flooding events with lots of food caterers – they should try and keep it to the bare minimum, even if we need to pay a bit more.”
Look out for our home delivery with our new range of donuts
Hopes of a future
Ally is now hoping to branch out into home delivery as he examines other ways of ensuring his business can continue and he can hand it over to his son one day in the future.
“I am going to start doing a delivery service with some different doughnuts, like Nutella chocolate and the like. Six or 12 in a box is my next market.
“I was hoping to hand my business down to my son in the future so I am really hoping that things can pick up in the next couple of years so I actually have something to hand down.”