Hospitality businesses across Queensland are investing for future growth, with the Commonwealth Bank’s lending to bars, restaurants, cafes and pubs in the Sunshine State up 40 per cent over the past six months.

“Many hospitality venues in Queensland, including in the Brisbane CBD, have made changes to operating models over the past year and are looking for opportunities to expand their business,” CBA’s Executive General Manager Major Client Group, Chris Williams, said.

One CBA customer looking to the future is Howard Smith Wharves, a lifestyle and entertainment destination located beneath the iconic Story Bridge on the Brisbane River. Constructed in the 1930s, the heritage-listed wharves were transformed two years ago bringing Howard Smith Wharves founder Adam Flaskas’ vision to life – a bustling precinct, home to unique, culturally diverse restaurants and a brewery, Felon’s Brewing Co.

“The city and locals of Brisbane have really welcomed the precinct – we had millions of Queenslanders and visitors from around Australia visit us in our first year of opening. We’ve been open now over two years but last year was the toughest year I have experienced. I remember calling Commonwealth Bank and right from the get go of the pandemic they said they would back us, so we were able to retain the majority of our staff,” Mr Flaskas said.

“While challenging, last year gave us the space to think about what we were doing well, what we weren’t doing well, and how we could do things better. And importantly, how we could grow the precinct further. It’s such a vibrant space with endless possibilities. Our business is on a very positive trajectory and I think Queensland is sitting in a very good position.”

Mr Flaskas is looking at what more can be done to continue to deliver unparalleled entertainment and dining experiences to cement Brisbane’s position as a New World City. Acknowledging the support Commonwealth Bank provided to Howard Smith Wharves throughout the pandemic, Mr Flaskas said he confidently looks towards the future, knowing the bank is there to back his vision.

“The support provided by the team at Commonwealth Bank has been invaluable and we are fortunate to have a partner who understands what we want to achieve and can get behind us as we work towards our business goals.”

Mr Williams, said: “The hospitality industry employs many thousands of Australians. Not only is it vitally important to the broader Australian economy, but it has a huge influence on our collective wellbeing.”

“Businesses such as Howard Smith Wharves were flexible and able to adapt their business model at short notice as customer footfall ebbed and flowed with COVID restrictions.

“We’re now seeing many Queensland businesses experiencing strong trading conditions buoyed by rising business and consumer confidence and, in particular, consumer spending. This was particularly evident in regional Queensland initially and has flowed through the city regions, including Brisbane.”

Mr Williams said we have seen many businesses innovate as they worked through COVID restrictions, discovering better and smarter ways of doing business.  One example is the online order App hospitality venues such as Felons Brewery or Mr Percival’s have installed – allowing patrons to be able to socially distance in accordance with the new venue requirements and no longer queue for food and drinks.

Also on the agenda for many businesses is investing in data insights and technology such as CommBank iQ and CBA’s x15ventures cloud-based platform, Doshii – to provide greater flexibility and meet a wider range of customer needs.

Mr Williams said: “Doshii is a transformative solution for the hospitality space as it addresses a clear pain point in the hospitality industry. An increasing number of venues are using multiple systems to manage orders from various channels leading to manual handling errors, delays in order preparation, and wrong orders being sent out. Doshii automates this process by integrating these systems seamlessly into a venue’s existing operation.”