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Mon 6th Sep 2021 - Wagamama boss reveals recruitment challenges
Wagamama boss reveals recruitment challenges: Wagamama has revealed difficulty in hiring chefs across a fifth of its restaurants amid a “perfect storm” of supply chain challenges and staff shortages. The group’s recently appointed chief executive Thomas Heier said he was struggling to fill chef vacancies in around 30 sites. He said Brexit was impacting the number of European workers looking for jobs in the UK, but also blamed tough competition in the recruitment market as logistics firms are resorting to wage hikes and steep cash bonuses to help plug lorry and delivery driver shortages. Heier said: “We’ve seen a reduction in our EU workforce in particular, but the other thing we’re seeing is increased competition from logistics and delivery firms who are struggling with an increased number of vacancies.” It also comes as demand for workers has surged across the hospitality sector due to booming business following the lifting of coronavirus restrictions and with Britons staycationing due to the pandemic, according to the firm’s boss. He said the seasonally quiet month of August saw sales on a par with peak trading levels normally seen in the autumn.“It’s a perfect storm of higher than normal demand, with supply chain challenges in the mix and a shortage of staff on the logistics side,” said Heier. He said while Wagamama has not been in a position where it is desperately short of chefs or ingredients, it has felt the pressure like many of its rivals. And he warned it could lead to rising food prices as the supply chain crisis mounts. “I don’t think we or anyone else are out of the water yet,” he said.

Strong performance of regional restaurant groups highlighted in updated Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book: The strong performance of regional restaurant groups is highlighted in the updated Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book. A total of 62 companies are being added to the updated Blue Book, which is produced in association with Mapal Group, taking the combined number to 408 companies, which produce total turnover of £30.6bn. Of those companies 200 are reporting a profit and 204 are making a loss. Among the new additions is independent restaurant group Tattu, which is set to make its London debut with the opening of its fifth site. Established in 2015, Tattu opened its first restaurant in Manchester’s Spinningfields district, followed by sites in Leeds, Birmingham and most recently Edinburgh, offering contemporary cuisine inspired by traditional Chinese flavours and ingredients, curated by executive chef Andrew Lassetter. The Blue Book shows those four sites were turning over a combined £13.9m and generating a pre-tax profit of £1.7m pre-pandemic. The next edition of the Blue Book will be sent to Premium subscribers on Friday (10 September) at midday. The Blue Book, which is updated every month, provides an insight into UK operator turnover and profitability over five years, profit conversion and directors’ earnings. Premium subscribers also receive two other databases – the New Openings Database, produced in association with StarStock, and the Multi-site Operators Database, produced in association with Virgate, which are also updated each month. Subscribers also receive access to Propel’s library of lockdown videos and Friday Wrap interviews and now also have access to a curated video library of the sector’s finest leaders and entrepreneurs, offering their insights on running outstanding businesses in the sector. Premium subscribers also receive their morning newsletter 11 hours early, at 7pm the evening before our 6am send-out; regular video content and regular exclusive columns from Propel insights editor Mark Wingett. Companies can now have an unlimited number of people receive access to Propel Premium for a year for £895 plus VAT – whether they are an operator or a supplier. The regular single subscription rate of £395 plus VAT for operators and £495 plus VAT for suppliers remains the same. Email jo.charity@propelinfo.com to sign up.

Staff accuse Byron over changes to service charge: Byron, the Famously Proper-owned burger brand, has been accused of creating a “hostile environment” between managers and waiting staff who fear their tips are about to be diverted to increase pay for kitchen workers and restaurant managers. The Guardian writes that Byron splits the 10% service charge it applies to bills between waiting staff, who get 70%, and kitchen workers, who get 30%. Staff have now been told that a new system will be put in place to split the charge in a “fair and equal” manner, with restaurant management teams expected to get a share for the first time. While workers at each of the chain’s 21 restaurants will elect a person to represent them on a so-called tronc committee, which will decide the future of the service charge, only 12 will be selected from that group to sit on the committee. Some workers fear the company will use that process to pack the committee with people who back its strategy. One waiter said: “People that have been working together for years are now fierce enemies, they do not talk to each other anymore. With this decision Byron has created a hostile environment, and has also created uncertainty among the staff.” In a statement, Byron said: “As the business has started to come out of lockdown and fully reopen, and staff come off the furlough scheme, we are reviewing the use of external companies as a way of maintaining the high standards that the business has always maintained.” Famously Proper said all gratuities left by customers went to workers in its restaurants and kitchens, and not to head office staff or the company. “We don’t view tips as a way of subsidising wages, which are already on par with the industry standard rate of pay,” it said. The company added that the management of the business had no say over how the service charge would be distributed in future. “The outcome of the scheme will be decided ultimately by the circa 700 employees themselves as they nominate and vote on all committee members,” Famously Proper said in a statement. “The company can’t influence or pass comment on the outcome of any decision that the employee committee will make.”

Nightcap expands site pipeline: Nightcap has entered into a lease for a new London Cocktail Club bar at 78 Queen Victoria Street in Central London. The site covers an area of approximately 1,500 square feet with a 1:00 am license. The site is expected to be open before the end of the calendar year and will have an unrestricted capacity of 150. Nightcap continues to ramp up its new site roll-out and currently has a further five sites in legal negotiations across several of its brands. Sarah Willingham, chief executive of Nightcap, said: “Since the lifting of the covid restrictions we have been impressed with the strong trading at all of our City sites in London. I am therefore delighted to announce the signing of this new bar by Mansion House tube station as the next in a string of new sites being finalised for The London Cocktail Club. We are delighted to see that the hard work invested across the group, in securing the best possible sites across the country, is starting to pay off.”

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