The ‘relentless’ Brisbane industries leading a confident business agenda

Tuesday 21 December, 2021 | By: Emma Clarke

Brisbane hospitality businesses are preparing for what they expect to be among the most transformative opportunities for their development and growth in the next year.

With Queensland borders re-opened, the festive Christmas spend forthcoming and the Brisbane Olympics in 2032 already contributing to the city’s exposure, venue owners like Dap & Co Hospitality Group are investing in the post-COVID confidence in Brisbane.

Among the forces behind venues including Popolo, The Gresham Bar and Walter’s Steakhouse, Andrew Baturo and Sean Waters have positioned themselves ‘at the Paris end of Eagle Street’ but also leading a confident and optimistic agenda in the local industry.

They’re not alone. Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland’s (CCIQ) September quarter Pulse survey results found Brisbane businesses expected the national and Queensland economies to improve over the next 12 months.

Compared to the rest of the state, Brisbane businesses were among the most confident in the local economy’s recovery in 2022, predicting some of the highest increases from across the state. 

Dap & Co Director Andrew Baturo expects the optimism to come from a combination of state border reopening and upcoming Olympics exposure but overall a significant increase in consumer confidence and appreciation of local hospitality businesses meant the industry had something to look forward to.

“It’s a resilient, robust, creative, exciting industry and it’s only going to get better. Even COVID can’t stop progress. The hospitality industry is relentless and it takes a lot to stop that,” he said.

“People in hospitality and business owners are a combination of gamblers and optimists – we take risks but we’re confident.“I’m excited. I expect to see the best January on record in perhaps a decade.”

Mr Baturo said COVID had put the industry in the spotlight and highlighted the value of ‘love your local’ businesses.

An inability to travel forced consumers to find unique experiences around the corner from home and discover the local neighborhood businesses - hair salons, retail stores and hospitality venues.

“There is a bespoke, unique and creative effort in suburban business, but they’re also convenient being local,” he said.

“These kind of things make businesses stronger and more resilient and more likely to think outside the box.

“This industry is difficult at the best of times without a pandemic but out of chaos comes opportunity.”

Dap & Co’s Sean Waters said the benefit of state borders re-opening was not wholly in a surge of people spending money, but the clear message things were going back to normal.

He said it means businesses were confident they were able to maintain momentum.

“It’s a sign of confidence,” he said.

“Something which has been pretty well demonstrated over the past two years is the value of confidence and we’re having some of those glimpses.”

He said hospitality businesses were well placed to cash in on the opportunity created through COVID, but also the exposure from the Brisbane Olympics announcement.

“The discovery of Brisbane and the conversation around Brisbane has boomed,” Mr Waters said.

“Businesses can leverage that now. What is also exciting is the development and investment in Brisbane and the surrounding areas which will transform the city and create wonderful opportunities for small business.

“Having a well connected city will mean Brisbane can come into its own as an accessible city.”

Mr Baturo said over the next 12 months the hospitality industry would be looking to where the future market opportunities existed – potentially internationally.

“We’re also putting our money where our mouth is. We’re so confident we’re investing in more venues in the new year.”

What Queensland can be doing to support small business

Queensland businesses are this week facing among the most pivotal opportunities for their long-term recovery from COVID since the economic crisis began in Queensland close to two years ago – and customers, communities and consumers have an important role to play.

CCIQ Policy and Advocacy General Manager Amanda Rohan said now was the time for Queensland communities, both local and visiting, to do their part to help ensure businesses were still competitive, resilient and diversified in the future.

“Business told us the uncertainty border closures created was among the most significant impacts on their confidence in their long-term recovery and even ability to stay in business at all so it was a positive step on the road to recovery when those markets and opportunities re-opened,” Ms Rohan said.

“Communities, customers and consumers can do their part by shopping at small businesses where they can and directing their concerns about the new rules to relevant authorities and not small business owners.

“It’s a crucial time for the state’s economy to get back to business and we can all help ensure it happens effectively.”

Brisbane Junior Chamber of Commerce President Nathan Schokker said the city’s economy was ready to get back to business and many were preparing to cash in on increased tourism, festive spending and long-term confidence.

“It’s an exciting time to be in business in Brisbane,” he said.

“While we know there are some challenges on the horizon, for the first time in close to two years many businesses are able to really envisage growth and development long-term.

“It’s essential we support that to make sure those businesses are still around next Christmas and beyond.”

CCIQ x Dap and Co x BJCC 1