Latest News | 28 January 2021

How Anoki delivered growth despite lockdowns

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A sector that has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic is hospitality. With the country now in its third national lockdown, restaurants and takeaways are currently restricted to providing a delivery service only.

While some eateries have gone under, others quickly adapted – including Marketing Derby Bondholder Anoki.

Here, Naveed Khaliq, owner of the Indian fine dining business, explains why he hopes Anoki’s story can inspire others in the industry that they can survive despite lockdown.


When our three restaurants closed in March last year due to lockdown, it was tough.

Our restaurants in Derby, Nottingham and Burton are always busy, so having to close our doors for the first time since we opened our first restaurant in 2003 was very disappointing.

Naveed Khaliq

We had already started delivering the Anoki Express Range of chilled ready meals into our local communities at weekends in our branded van, which stopped off in central locations like pub car parks and village greens etc.

When we saw on the news that people were struggling to get to the supermarket and book delivery slots for home deliveries, we decided to adapt our offering and expand the Express delivery service further afield.

We wanted to support people during what was a very difficult time, as well as give back to our loyal customer base, who have continued to support us over the years.

It was also important to us to make sure we covered those small, rural communities, which are often overlooked by delivery services.

We initially advertised a small list of delivery areas on social media and the response was phenomenal – by April we had 12 delivery vehicles, delivering meals across the East and West Midlands seven days a week.

We then launched a dedicated ordering website ( and since then have added more dishes to our menu.

As a result of the popularity of the Express Range, we recruited six drivers and bought eight new vans to cope with the increasing demand.

Our staff continue to work extremely hard to provide the highest possible levels of service for which Anoki is renowned.

They always go the extra-mile to make sure everything runs smoothly, and we can deliver to as many customers as possible across the East and West Midlands.

The coronavirus pandemic has had a crippling effect on businesses up and down the country and the hospitality industry has been affected more than others.

Although it was clear that lockdown measures were needed to avoid a catastrophic loss of life, I do feel that the sector has been treated harshly at times, particularly during the periods when other sectors of the economy have been allowed to reopen.

In terms of financial support, I think the Government has tried its best to support the hospitality sector, with the 12-month freeze on business rates and the reduction in VAT to 5%.

The Eat out to Help Out scheme was a welcome boost, but unfortunately the move back into lockdown made it impossible for us to regain lost revenue.

We have been able to claim the statutory government grants that have been available to the hospitality industry during the lockdowns, which has been of some help to us with our fixed costs.

Fortunately, due to the growth of the Express Range, we only needed to furlough five staff across our three restaurants and trained our existing front of house staff to help with our hot takeaway service and Anoki Express.

The funding provided has been welcome, but it is a drop in the ocean when you consider the fixed costs that most establishments have and the length of time they have been forced to close.

Today, we are continuing to offer our Express Range delivery service across the East and West Midlands seven days a week.

Even when restrictions were relaxed back in the summer, our Express Range was still very popular.

People have really bought into the idea of having a restaurant-quality meal that they can heat up and eat at their convenience.

But we know many have missed the freedom and luxury of dining out in our restaurants, so we hope that later this year we can welcome even more people to our restaurants safely.

We have already expanded our range of meals and plan to introduce a variety of other dishes and drinks to our menu in 2021, as well as expand our delivery areas still further.

This is such a difficult time for the hospitality sector and sadly, some businesses will not survive.

I would advise those businesses that are still able to trade to try to diversify and come up with new ideas for getting their products and services out to their customers.

I’d recommend they make use of social media too to get their messages across.

We started a new Facebook page for our Express Range service at the beginning of April and it’s now got almost 15,000 followers. Over the past four weeks alone, our posts have reached more than 303,000 people.


Author: Naveed Khaliq, owner of Anoki


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