Amidst all the trials and tribulations of the past year, it would seem the simplest of pleasures still ring true.
Whether it be a cup of tea and a slice of cake or a little chocolate indulgence, the nation has been seeking solace in a wealth of culinary treats.
And for two of Yorkshire’s best-loved companies, the rise in demand for their little taste of luxury has seen a challenging – but ultimately rewarding – shift in trade.
Both Bettys and Taylors of Harrogate have witnessed a dramatic shift in sales, as customers look to purchase their goods in a flood of online orders.
While the six Bettys restaurants and tearooms across Yorkshire – the business has famously declined to open any other ventures outside of the county’s boundaries – have had to remain closed during the lockdowns, the change in customer demand has seen a major shift in focus for both of the Harrogate-based firms.
All of the 1,400 staff spread across Bettys and Taylors have remained in their jobs and have not had to be furloughed, but many have carved out a new niche in the enterprises.
More than 50 workers at the restaurants have been redeployed to support the online operations of both businesses, while other staff remain at the tearooms to help maintain the premises, many of which are listed, in York, Harrogate, Northallerton, Ilkley and Harlow Carr.
For Bettys alone, online demand has risen dramatically during the coronavirus pandemic, with year on year growth for orders via the internet at more than 200 per cent.
It’s postal order service was launched in 1986, initially as a mail order company before moving online, which has now become an integral part of the business.
The managing director of Bettys, Simon Eyles, said: “We’re fortunate that several parts of our business – such as Taylors, Bettys Bakery and Bettys mail order service – have continued to operate throughout the pandemic, and we’ve been touched and inspired by the support from both our people and our customers.
“Our people have worked with great flexibility to keep our business as operational as possible, and to adapt to the changes and challenges the pandemic has brought.
“We don’t know what the future will bring and no businesses can make any guarantees. “However, compared to many, we know we’re in a fortunate position and hope to come through the pandemic a stronger, more resilient and more agile business.”
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