Hospitality Industry is Impacted by Brexit

Harvester owner warns Brexit and rising costs will dent UK hospitality

Pub group Mitchells & Butlers believes the hospitality industry is faring best as rising bills and wages squeeze profits.

The pub and restaurant group Mitchells & Butlers has warned that problems caused by Brexit and rising costs will hurt the hospitality sector, just as businesses return to profit after the easing of pandemic restrictions.

The company, which owns pub chains including O’Neill’s and restaurant brands such as Harvester, said Brexit was still “an important event for the market” and had created risks for the sector, most notably around the supply and cost of products and workforce shortages. It said the hospitality industry is set to have higher energy bills and increased staff wages.

Mitchells & Butlers – which also runs All Bar One, Toby Carvery and Miller & Carter – said customers began to return to its 1,600 UK venues when lockdown restrictions were relaxed in the spring. Its sales bounced back in August and September and it is now receiving bookings for Christmas parties.

Announcing its annual results, the group said its suburban locations were trading better than those in city centres, as continued home working meant people visited their local rather than a branch near their workplace. Footfall in major cities has been slowly increasing in recent months, a trend the company expects to continue.

Pub and restaurant-goers want to socialise with others in a way they cannot at home following pandemic restrictions, the group said, as it reported a pre-tax loss of £42m for the year to 25 September, compared with £123m a year earlier.

Mitchells & Butlers said it had returned to profitability in recent months and its like-for-like sales were 2.7% higher than pre-Covid levels during the past eight weeks.

Christmas bookings at its venues had begun later than in previous years, but were now coming in, said Phil Urban, the company’s chief executive, although this year’s get-togethers look to be smaller than usual.

“We are seeing bookings in the cities and the suburbs, right across all our portfolio,” he said.

“We have some big venues, particularly in London, that can take some big size parties and what we are probably seeing less of so far, is a company coming in and saying can we take your whole venue for a night. But that’s not to say they won’t be replaced by people having smaller-sized parties. We are encouraged on bookings”.

On Wednesday, wine and spirits companies warned there could be alcohol shortages in the UK over the festive season, as a result of the lack of HGV drivers. Mitchells & Butlers said it had several medium-sized Mercedes-Benz Sprinter vans on standby, ready to collect goods from depots in the event of a missed delivery by lorry.

“We have product in the supply chain, but either the supplier can’t get it to the depot or from the depot to the site. It’s a localised issue. The problem is we don’t know where it will be until it doesn’t turn up,” Urban said. He added he was able in some cases to send vans to depots to collect supplies, “rather than wait for our logistics to reschedule”.

Mitchells & Butlers said it was working to offset the impact of rising costs, but warned they would have a residual impact on its performance in the current financial year.

Higher utility bills remain a concern for the company, while it will also have to pay its staff more from next April as they benefit from the rise in the “national living wage” to £9.50 an hour for workers aged 23 and over.

Amid rising costs, the company called for the government to extend the temporary reduction in the rate of VAT on food and sales of non-alcoholic drinks, which currently stands at 12.5% but is due to return to the pre-Covid 20% level next April.

The company said the temporary tax cut was worth £81m to the business during the year to September.

The original version of this article was first published in the Guardian

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Covid Impacts Customer Experience in Hospitality

Staff shortages are damaging customer experience

The cracks caused by staff shortages are really beginning to show as customer service within hospitality slips. According to new consumer and hospitality staff research by KAM Media for pointOne, which reveals that customer experience, particularly in QSR, is being damaged by the current crisis.

In their survey of 500 QSR customers and 100 frontline staff, nearly two in three customers had noticed venues they have visited being short-staffed over the last three months and one in five said they’d waited longer to be seated and served than normal.

Staff too are beginning to feel the strain, with 59% of staff admitting that customer experience in hospitality is suffering in their venue due to lack of staff. The research suggests that the knock-on effect of shortages is also leading to an overload of work on existing staff and subsequent stress and dissatisfaction, with an alarming 64% of staff saying that working in hospitality is less enjoyable now than it was pre-pandemic.

Far from feeling threatened by it, venues embracing time-saving technologies would improve their job satisfaction, says 64% of hospitality staff. 94% of them are confident that technology can help them do their job.

Blake Gladman, Strategy & Insights Director at KAM, said: “Given current staff shortages, tight budgets and supply chain issues, the pressure is really on for operators to ensure that their staff have the time and space in which to ‘look after’ the fundamental customer demands and consistently deliver the experience their customers expect. Staff obviously only have a finite amount of time so it’s critical they are focused on the areas which will deliver the greatest return. Quality and relevant training, great leadership, and company culture as well as emerging technology are all critical enablers here.”

Steve Rolfe, founder at pointOne said: “Hospitality has taken a hammering since restaurants were forced to close their doors last March and since then the need to quickly adjust operations has been relentless. As we emerge out of this pandemic with the latest pressures of staff shortages, it may not feel like the ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ moment we were looking for, but this could be a timely fork in the road for many operators. It offers a fantastic opportunity to completely re-evaluate their operation and implement automation tools that can free up employees’ time for the part of the job they really love, which is giving the customer a great experience.”

The demand for the ‘human touch’ and connection is still absolutely at the heart of a memorable customer experience and in fact has grown in importance post-pandemic, even in a QSR environment; more than 40% of customers saying staff friendliness and also knowledge is even more important to them now compared with 20 months ago.

Customers are desperate for service with a smile with 1-in-3 wanting staff to pro-actively engage with them, even in a QSR environment. However, more than 1-in-10 just want to be left alone while in a venue, with minimal contact with staff. Customers who want the most interaction from staff are women (compared with men), customers with children and perhaps surprisingly Generation Z; only 7% said they prefer to be left alone by staff compared with 17% of over 55 years olds.

Gladman comments: “Outstanding customer experience in hospitality demands a human touch. It requires empathy, flexibility and passion. These skills can be harder to train and take a greater level of emotional and intellectual knowledge to deliver effectively. Operators need to create an environment in which these skills can flourish. The danger of having too many processes and menial tasks for staff to deal with is that they can negatively impact the capacity for them to connect with customers.”

Rolfe comments: “We know that hospitality is not the most desirable career path for many, a challenge the industry must conquer, but knowing that a better use of tech can ultimately take away a lot of the tasks that are less desirable and make a career in hospitality about actually delivering hospitality to customers is a valuable thing.”

The independent research commissioned by pointOne has been published in a white paper, People + Tech: A New Era of Customer Experience in QSR, available to download here.

The original version of this article was first published on The Caterer

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New Hospitality Scholarship

Former MasterChef judge helps launch new hospitality scholarship at Dundee and Angus College

Following the impact of the pandemic on the hospitality sector, which has led to there being an industry-wide staff shortage, the scholarship will help Scotland’s up-and-coming culinary talent gain vital skills.

Open to students in first, second and third year studying on the college’s professional cookery or hospitality courses, the shortlisting will take place in March 2022 with the award presented to three students in the summer.

Created by lifetime education ambassador, John McGee, who works across Scotland’s colleges to connect curriculum to the student experience, John collaborated with both the college and chef and John Benson-Smith to create the scholarship.

John McGee says: “John Benson-Smith made a comment on something on LinkedIn, complimenting West Lothian College on what they were doing in terms of their hospitality courses. So I said to him ‘have you ever thought of doing a scholarship for Scottish education?’

“We’re really struggling in hospitality and are 100,000 chefs short across the industry. We really need to get these students, who do fantastic work.

“At Dundee and Angus College, Kichelle Williams-Robinson and Sara Long who lead the college’s hospitality and professional cookery curriculum are just incredible.

“I thought if there is an opportunity to create a scholarship in Scotland, why do we want to keep it to just one college and one community? So rather than just keep it at West Lothian College, I asked John how he felt about opening it up to other colleges, too.”

Award recipients

The three successful students who achieve the award next July will receive numerous benefits, including once-in-a-lifetime educational experiences, a bespoke chef’s jacket and employment opportunities, including chef opportunities in local hotels.

Known most recently for being a former judge on BBC’s MasterChef, John Benson-Smith has had a varied career, including being the original flavour designer for Walker Sensations crisps.

“John is a chef in his own right as well as a business person. His profile is quite unique,” adds John McGee.

“He came back to me and said he was really up for creating the scholarship. Currently he’s working in an establishment in Perthshire so he is spending a lot of time now in Scotland.

“We met with Dundee and Angus College and their students, which was just an amazing experience. The professionalism of the hospitality team in Dundee and Angus is untouchable. They’re brilliant.

“I worked then with the college to get the ball rolling on the scholarship. It’s not just to do with what comes out the pan or the oven, it’s also about a student’s attitude, how they got there and what’s a challenge for them.”

Spearheading the scholarship

Dundee and Angus College will be the first in Scotland to offer the John Benson-Smith scholarship to students, with others on track to follow suit in the coming years.

It is hoped that such schemes help to plug some of the gaps currently being experienced by the hospitality industry.

John McGee continues: “We’ve lost a lot of people from the industry for various different reasons, so we need to upskill our existing workforce and embrace people who want to change their career.

“Judging will start from March or April with the decision made in July. Then it will be an annual thing every year for first, second and third year students.

“Applicants will be given questions on what their journey has been like such as what’s been challenging for them, what’s made them come into this etc. It’s about attitude and how they’ve embraced the educational side.”

Shortlisting

The shortlisting of candidates will take place in March, with applicants required to meet four question criteria:

  • Why did you choose to study hospitality/professional cookery at D&A college?
  • What challenges, if any, have you experienced?
  • What is your goal from coming to college and being successful with your studies?
  • How would a John Benson-Smith scholarship enhance your aspirations?

A judging panel will make the final decision and award the applicants in July 2022.

The original version of this article was first published on the courier

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School to Beat Hospitality Skills Shortage

Ulster University bucks trend with multi million pound hospitality school to beat post-Brexit skills shortage

With the pandemic and Brexit having exacerbated the UK’s hospitality skills shortage, industry leaders have said it is essential institutions continue to offer professional hospitality courses as they do in Europe.

A university in Northern Ireland is opening a multi-million pound hospitality school and cultural hub, which will help combat the sector’s post-Brexit hospitality skills shortage.

Ulster University Business School has spent £360m on a new campus, with a considerable portion being used to create a specialist centre for would-be chefs, restaurant managers and hospitality entrepreneurs.

While other institutions are closing their culinary arts programmes, Academy: the Centre for Food, Drink and Culture features a commercial restaurant and bar among its facilities.

Hospitality consultant Donald Sloan, the chair of the centre’s steering group, said the investment is more crucial than ever.

“Our industry has suffered from massive underfunding and still there is this perception that hospitality isn’t deserving of investment such as this,” he told i.

“This project goes against the grain – I think one good thing to come out of an awful two years is how valuable and necessary our pubs and restaurants are. But we need skilled people to work in them.

“Elsewhere, universities are cutting funding. This signifies a long-term commitment and I think it will have an enormous impact.”

In September 2019, one of the country’s then leading university hospitality schools closed its training restaurant, despite a widespread public outcry.

Oxford Brookes Restaurant, which formed part of the Oxford School of Hospitality Management, pulled the plug “following a formal consultation process and careful consideration”.

In the same year, The Advertiser reported Derby University’s Buxton campus would be stopping courses in hospitality, tourism and events management, displacing hundreds of students.

With the pandemic and Brexit having exacerbated the UK’s skill pool, industry leaders have said it is essential institutions continue to offer professional hospitality courses as they do in Europe.

Professor Una McMahon-Beattie, head of Hospitality and Tourism Management at Ulster University, said: “We’re one of the oldest departments in the UK and Ireland and this investment means we’ve built an amazing new learning environment for students.

“Ulster has a long tradition of hospitality. Now, we’ve gone so much further, and have a fully immersed hospitality environment with a restaurant, kitchen, bar, board room, and visitor centre.

“This is one of the biggest educational developments in Europe currently, with world-class facilities.”

The original version of this article was first published on the iNews

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Hospitality Recruitment Campaign

Hospitality Rising recruitment campaign launches £5m fundraise

Hospitality Recruitment Campaign, Hospitality Rising, led by ex Pret a Manger and YO! Sushi marketer Mark McCulloch to tackle the sector’s talent crisis, has launched a £5m fundraise.

McCulloch hopes to create a high-profile Hospitality Recruitment Campaign to attract more talent into the industry as it starts to recover following the pandemic.

Hospitality Rising has already raised £200,000 pre fundraising launch from a range of companies including Côte, Peach Pubs, Wild Flor, Butlin’s, Rhubarb Hospitality Group, Hilton, Buzzworks, Pizza Pilgrims, Wahaca, Arc Inspirations, Loungers, Coal Shed, Marugame Udon, Hawksmoor, Punch Pubs and PizzaExpress.

The campaign has also secured £250,000 worth of pro bono creative strategy time and concept development from a clutch of top agencies via the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising, led by Julian Douglas. He has pulled together advertising agencies including VCCP, Ogilvy and Forever Beta that work with brands such as O2, Cadbury, Burger King, Coca Cola, Google and Amazon.

McCulloch said: “The support we’ve had from the industry and some of our marketing contacts has been amazing. We now need to raise enough money to really land a high profile that will both attract people back into the industry or make those who haven’t considered our sector as a viable, exciting, creative and rewarding career.”

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, added: “We’re very pleased to be working closely with Mark and Hospitality Rising to develop and promote a comprehensive campaign to address chronic labour and skills shortages in the hospitality industry with a range of short and long-term plans, and in particular to raise awareness of the need for all-important campaign funding. It has our full backing and we’re excited to see such early and positive momentum.”

The original version of this article was first published on the caterer

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Hospitality Award Winners Revealed

Hotel Cateys 2021 winners revealed

The winners of the hospitality award Hotel Cateys were revealed this evening, which saw outgoing Pride of Britain Hotels chief executive Peter Hancock awarded the Outstanding Contribution Award in a glittering ceremony at London’s Park Plaza Westminster Bridge hotel.

Conference chair, hospitality award ceremony host, qualified toastmaster, professional after-dinner speaker, ‘reasonably priced raconteur’, columnist for The Caterer and the ‘voice of God’ including at the Cateys – Hancock has spent over 40 years in the hospitality industry, including 21 years as chief executive of the Pride of Britain Hotels marketing consortium.

His support and involvement in the industry has extended far beyond his day job – he is also a fellow of the Institute of Hospitality, the Tourism Society, HOSPA and the Academy of Food & Wine Service; an honorary Master Innholder and St Julian Scholar; and an ambassador for the Gold Service Scholarship young hospitality professionals competition.

This month sees him step down from the role he has held for more than 20 years, but as is so often the case in hospitality, retirement doesn’t mean he’s stepping away from the sector and he plans to do more speaking and event hosting and continue his involvement with various industry bodies.

The Extra Mile Award went to John Angus, managing director of Switch Hospitality, who created a new standard for hotels offering accommodation for vulnerable families in Birmingham.

Other individuals to be recognised during the evening included KK Prabakaran, executive head housekeeper at Dukes London, who won Housekeeper of the Year; and Rosie Wilkins of the Torridon in Wester Ross, who was awarded Front of House Manager of the Year.

The hotel chef of the year awards went to Hrishikesh Desai, executive chef at the Gilpin Hotel and Lake House in Cumbria (fewer than 250 covers); Olivier Ruiz, executive head chef at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge London (more than 250 covers); and Jean-Philippe Blondet, executive chef at the three-Michelin-starred Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester in London (Hotel Restaurant Chef of the Year).

Meanwhile, Red Carnation Hotels walked away with HR Team of the Year and the Grove of Narberth in Pembrokeshire scooped Front of House Team of the Year.

2021 Hotel Catey winners

Best Use of Technology Award
Nobu Hotel London, Portman Square

Concierge of the Year
Sarah Gaskin, the Headland hotel, Cornwall

Food and Beverage Manager of the Year
Sharon McArthur, the Athenaeum Hotel & Residences, London

HR Team of the Year Red Carnation Hotels

Front of House Manager of the Year
Rosie Wilkins, the Torridon, Wester Ross

Hotel Restaurant Team of the Year
The Bridge and the Vicarage, Flat Cap Hotels, Cheshire

Front of House Team of the Year Grove of Narberth, Pembrokeshire

Hotel Chef of the Year (fewer than 250 covers)
Hrishikesh Desai, Gilpin, Cumbria

Hotel Restaurant Chef of the Year
Jean-Philippe Blondet, Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester, London

Hotel Chef of the Year (more than 250 covers)
Olivier Ruiz, Park Plaza Westminster Bridge London

Hotel Restaurant Manager of the Year
Emma Lonie, the Balmoral, Edinburgh

Housekeeper of the Year KK Prabakaran, Dukes London

Revenue Manager of the Year Jane Bateup, the Grand Brighton and Richmond Hill hotels

HR Manager of the Year
Caroline Harrison, Luxury Family Hotels

Spa Professional of the Year
Amanda Hardy, Serenity Spa, Seaham Hall, County Durham

Sustainable Hotel of the Year
Raithwaite Sandsend

The 2021 Hotelier of the Year
Daniel Pedreschi, PPHE Hotel Group

Extra Mile Award
John Angus, Switch Hospitality Management

Outstanding Contribution Award
Peter Hancock, Pride of Britain Hotels

Thanks to our sponsors:

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The original version of this article was first published on the caterer

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Hospitality Boost for 2022

UK hotel investment market set for bumper 2022 driven by return of international visitors

Hospitality boost in 2022 predicted after confidence in the UK hotel investment market is rising with the volume of transactions forecast to reach £4.5b in 2022, according to property firm Savills.

This would beat the 15-year average of £4.22b and demonstrate a growing appetite among investors for UK hotels.

However, there is already some recovery in the market with transaction volumes in 2021 set to total £4.1b, which is 78% higher than in 2020.

The return of international visitors could see a hospitality boost in 2022 rise to 75% of pre-Covid levels by the end 2022, Savills has predicted.

Robert Stapleton, head of hotel transactions at Savills, said: “Activity in 2022 will be supported by more stock coming to the market and improving operational performance, particularly in London which has lagged the trajectory of the UK’s regional markets.

“The return of international visitors has been long awaited and we are already seeing the positive effects that growing international arrivals are having on the hospitality industry.”

Savills said environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors would become increasingly important for hotel operators, developers and investors in 2022 and beyond, with ESG compliant properties likely to see tighter yields due to a rise in demand.

Stapleton added that though there was a “weight of money” looking to be spent in the sector, recovery could be delayed by operational challenges and uncertainty around rising Covid rates in the UK.

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Single-use plastics in Hospitality

Consultation launched into banning single-use plastic cutlery and plates

Single-use plastics in hospitality such as plates, cutlery and food containers could all be banned in England after the government launched a public consultation into the issue.

Items such as expanded polystyrene cups could also be phased out in a bid to eliminate avoidable plastic waste.

Environment secretary George Eustice said it was time to leave the UK’s “throwaway culture” behind “once and for all”.

It is estimated that 1.1 billion single-use plates and 4.25 billion items of single-use cutlery are used in England every year, but only 10% are recycled.

Under proposals in the 12-week public consultation, businesses and consumers will need to move towards more sustainable alternatives.

Possible future policy measures could include banning plastic in certain items and introducing mandatory labelling on packaging to help consumers dispose of items correctly.

Eustice said: “These new plans represent the next major step in eradicating the use of problematic plastics that pollute our natural world.”

Ministers are planning a range of legislation to tackle pollution as part of the Environment Act, which became law earlier this month. Consultations on introducing a deposit return scheme for drinks containers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and requiring packaging producers to cover the cost of dealing with waste were held earlier this year.

A separate call for evidence is to be launched on tackling other commonly used plastic products such as single-use cups, sachets and wet wipes.

government ban on single-use plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds came into force in England in October 2020 and a tax on plastics that don’t meet a minimum threshold of at least 30% recycled content is due to be introduced from April 2022.

The sale of single-use plastics in hospitality such as straws, cutlery and polystyrene cups and food boxes is to be banned in Scotland from June 2022.

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Diversity and Inclusion in Hospitality

Be Inclusive Hospitality launches second industry survey

Be Inclusive Hospitality has launched its 2021 Inside Hospitality Survey to understand how diversity and inclusion in hospitality may have changed over the past 12 months.

The first was launched in November 2020, surveying employees and entrepreneurs from all backgrounds and career levels, in alignment with the social enterprise’s mission to accelerate race equity and equality by exploring topics including bias, career progression, inclusion and education. The results of the survey found half of hospitality professionals from Black, Asian or Ethnic Minority backgrounds had experienced racism at work.

This year’s diversity and inclusion in hospitality survey has set out to understand the status quo within all areas of hospitality including contract catering, pubs, bars, hotels and restaurants by benchmarking 2020 with 2021 results, facilitating learning and informing actions.

The Inside Hospitality Report will be published in March 2022 and will become a free of charge resource for the industry due to sponsorship.

Lorraine Copes, Be Inclusive Hospitality founder, said: “Coming out of a pandemic in 2021 has naturally meant that cash in some instances has acted as a barrier to purchase the report for some organisations. We wanted to remove this challenge and encourage all companies within the industry to share this survey amongst all employees at all levels. I truly believe that in order to move the dial forward on equity, diversity and inclusion we must really understand the problems that we are all working towards addressing”.

To take part in the survey, click here.

Be Inclusive Hospitality is a not-for-profit with a mission to drive education, amplify voices, build a strong community and accelerate racial equality in the hospitality sector.

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Hospitality Mentoring Scheme Launched

The Greyhound Beaconsfield launches hospitality mentoring scheme

The Greyhound pub and restaurant in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, has launched a hospitality mentoring scheme aiming to encourage more young people to consider careers within the hospitality industry.

As part of the Greyhound Hospitality Programme (GHP), proprietor Daniel Crump will run a series of talks in schools, outlining his experience in the hospitality industry and demonstrating what it takes to work both front of house and in the kitchen.

Crump will also be accompanied by members of the Greyhound team, including head chef James Askew and co-proprietor and sommelier Margriet Vandezande-Crump.

As well as teaching young people about the importance of hospitality and informing them about opportunities within the sector, students will also be invited to the restaurant for hands-on training.

Each student will have their own plan of action depending on their interests, with opportunities to shadow chefs and other kitchen staff, as well as front of house and bar staff.

Daniel Crump said: “We’re excited to connect with the next generation of hospitality professionals and promote what this industry is all about.

“As well as being there to mentor students and assist in any advice they may need, we hope to also offer talented young people the opportunity to work with the Greyhound in the future.

“I know how this sector can open so many doors for people who are keen to learn, develop and travel the world.”

Margriet Vandezande-Crump added: “The industry is so much more than just a job people do to fill gaps in their careers. It offers experiences which are second to none. We cannot wait to start sharing some of our stories with the next generation.”

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