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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Fri 29th Apr 2022 - Friday Opinion

Subjects: Help us put an end to the hospitality recruitment crisis forever,  the war on food and drink resumes, saying ‘I do’ to pub nuptials

Authors: Mark McCulloch, Paul Chase, Glynn Davis

Help us put an end to the hospitality recruitment crisis forever by Mark McCulloch

The seriousness of the crisis facing hospitality recruitment is no doubt top of the agenda for chief executives in the industry. The statistics make for alarming reading: 400,00 vacancies and around 42% who want to leave the industry. This, combined with the total UK labour market down by 900,000, makes for a grim picture.

The industry lost hundreds of thousands of people during the pandemic for good. We now have a finite amount of people in the UK to choose from to fill our vacancies, and staff shortages are costing British hospitality businesses £22bn per year. How do we fix it? The first thing we need to tackle is perception of the industry we are in. Only one in five people nationally would consider working in hospitality. This is our starting point, and where you can help.

We’ve created Hospitality Rising to help stop the recruitment crisis once and for all. We have the support of Hospitality & Tourism Skills Board, UKHospitality, the British Beer & Pub Association, the British Institute of Innkeeping, the Scottish Hospitality Group and major operators and suppliers across the industry. We now need your backing. We are asking every hospitality business and supplier to invest £10 per employee to help us hit at least a £1m target. These funds will be used to create the biggest hospitality recruitment campaign that the UK has ever seen. The aim is to showcase what we all know – that hospitality is a great industry to work in.
If you invest and join this movement, you will be in safe hands. Hospitality Rising is the official industry response to the recruitment crisis, and we’ve lined up the best creative talents in the UK to deliver our message to the widest audience possible. By joining forces, we can collectively tackle an industry wide problem that won’t go away – unless we all intervene and play a part. Let’s rise together and make hospitality a preferred job and career choice for all.
The advertising campaign is being led by Google’s lead creative agency and the Army’s lead brand strategist. But we need everyone in hospitality to invest now, or we will have no chance to stop the crisis. We are in the process of raising £1m-£5m by 12 May 2022, while £1m raised before then will unlock campaign creation and initial media buy. All you need to do is fill in the relevant investment form (operator or supplier), which you can find here, and send it to You will be sent an invoice by UKHospitality, who are handling all the money. We have raised £600,000 so far and want to reach the £1m base level target to do something memorable and meaningful across the next 12 months.
Those who invest will get access to the locked Hospitality Rising job site to post vacancies, which is where all adverts and searches will be pointed. The traffic will be significant. Your brand will be included in as many owned and earned channels as we possibly can. You will get assets for social media/digital channels and a local venue activation pack to print off locally to show you are a preferred employer who backs Hospitality Rising. The chance is there to create a real legacy by being one of the people and companies who changed the perception of hospitality for the better forever.
There is a time for being competitive and a time for solidarity. This is a time for solidarity, to raise the profile of hospitality as a whole and fend off advances from other industries who are actively advertising to and poaching talent that should be coming to us. This is not about getting more exposure than your competitor, nor does it replace your recruitment efforts short term. This is about a mid to longer term piece, where the work must start today to double the amount of people who would consider working in hospitality. Therefore, recruiting people in the mid to longer term will be easier and cheaper. This is about all of hospitality joining forces to fight against the other industries who will steal our future staff. We must give a job or career in hospitality the positive perception it deserves in the minds of candidates, parents and teachers alike.
There is lots of detail and thinking behind this initiative, so please refer to the detailed ROI doc here as your first port of call to answer any questions you have. The full advisory board, creative team and doing team are also listed in the document.
Mark McCulloch is a leading hospitality, tech and B2B marketer, formerly of Pret and YO!, and the founder of Hospitality Rising

The war on food and drink resumes by Paul Chase

Now that covid restrictions have ended, the wowsers of the public health succubus have decided to resume their mission to make food as bland and tasteless as possible by ensuring it is free of salt and sugar. And just so we’re reminded not to sin too much by eating something with too many calories, a new law requiring restaurants, cafes, and takeaways to put calorie counts for all food dishes and soft drinks on their menus came into force in the UK on the 7 April.
This law applies to operators with 250 or more employees, but smaller operators will be encouraged to follow suit. And not just physical menus. Online menus, third party apps, food delivery platforms and food labels must also carry this information, along with a warning that “adults need around 2,000 kcal a day”. There is no escape from the finger-wagging.
I support the idea that people should be informed and well educated about healthy food, drink and diet options. But whether measures that go beyond education and information are justified involves, for me, two tests: the liberty test and the effectiveness test. Is the measure proposed designed to coerce or persuade? Does it expand choice or mandate a reduction in the range of it? And does the measure actually deliver a public health benefit, or is it about virtue-signalling and sending a message? 
Puritans aren’t really interested in enabling people to make informed choices, but rather in getting them to make the “right choices”. Holly Gabriel, nutrition manager at sock puppet advocacy group Action on Sugar, welcomed the new law, commenting: “We hope this new law will make it easy for people who want to find healthier choices on these huge menus for themselves and their families, both in restaurants and at home.”
But this is the same group that supported the sugar levy and the forced reformulation of food products and smaller confectionery bars. When moral persuasion fails, these people reach for the statute book. Gabriel adds that Action on Sugar would like to see mandatory comprehensive reformulation targets on salt, sugar and calories for food companies and more fiscal measures such as the sugar levy.
Alcoholic beverages containing more than 1.2% alcohol by volume and pre-mixed spirits are excluded from the requirement to put calorie counts on drinks menus or product labels, and from the sugar levy. “Alcohol’s exemption comes down to a long history of government lobbying by the alcohol industry and a lack of willingness by the government to take a stand,” asserts Gabriel.

And, predictably, the Alcohol Health Alliance has recently been calling for a new alcohol strategy from the government, lamenting the fact that we haven’t had one since 2012 (thank heaven for small mercies), and that we still haven’t introduced minimum unit pricing for alcohol – a policy that has signally failed to achieve any of its predicted benefits in Scotland. 
The real purpose of calorie labelling, unit labelling and health warnings on beverage alcohol products has little to do with informing consumer choice, and everything to do with reducing the space on a label for branding – paving the way for plain packaging for alcohol products – a measure taken directly from the anti-smoking playlist. 
It feels as if the lessons of the past two years have been lost on these lifestyle warriors. It’s as if an old-fashioned respiratory disease pandemic that has killed at least 170,000 mostly elderly people in the UK never happened for them. It is precisely this focus on lifestyle diseases that caused public health to take its eye off the ball and leave us totally unprepared for a communicable disease pandemic of the kind they thought was a thing of the past in countries like ours with advanced healthcare systems. How wrong they were.
Paul Chase is director of Chase Consultancy and a leading industry commentator on alcohol and health

Saying ‘I do’ to pub nuptials by Glynn Davis

Returning to the Butcher’s Hook & Cleaver pub in Smithfield Market in the City of London last week for a business lunch brought back many happy memories, as it served as the venue where my wife and I held our wedding reception almost 20 years ago to the day.
Sitting in almost the same spot as I had done on the top table those two decades ago and scanning the pub’s lovely interior reminded me why we had chosen this venue among the many others we could have gone for around the country to celebrate this momentous day. It was very convenient for the church of St Etheldreda’s – located just down the road on Ely Place – but it equally fitted my long-held desire to have this special occasion in a pub.
Like most people, I’d celebrated pretty much every important event in my life down the pub, so why would I want to alter things for this particular day? Clearly, we were not the first people to adopt this thinking. I recall being told at the time that Kate Winslet had chosen a local boozer for her first wedding – the Crooked Billet in Stoke Row near Reading. I was even more alarmed when told that their guests had also enjoyed the same main courses that we’d plumped for – bangers and mash. Thankfully, things diverged at the dessert as we went with Kentish cherry pie versus their selection of Bakewell tart. Our paths ultimately divided even further as Kate and hubby number one separated not long afterwards.
We’d briefly investigated the crypt beneath the church for the reception, but like so many such places providing wedding packages, the costs can often spiral out of control. The most annoying aspect is the automatic hire charges and other premiums that seem to materialise for no other reason than it’s a wedding. Some venues, like the crypt, insist on using their preferred (expensive and often inflexible) caterers. 
Apparently, the average spend on the venue and catering elements of the big day in London is £28,000, and a still not inconsiderable £18,000 in the rest of the country, which seems an incredible sum. In my experience, the pub does not typically adopt such finely-honed methods of cash extraction from its customers. We were fortunate at the Butcher’s Hook & Cleaver that it was closed at weekends, so we could take over the entire venue. It simply involved us hitting a spending threshold, which was not particularly difficult, given that we had 80 people captive in a pub with a free bar from approximately noon until midnight.
This affordability is undoubtedly a reason why as many as 1.8 million people are due to hold their wedding in a pub this year, according to research. What also makes the pub such an attractive proposition is the fact you are highly likely to already know the space, the people, the quality and style of the food and the levels of service. It’s not something that’s alien, like booking a characterless function room in a hotel that you’ve never set foot in before. Pubs, of course, encompass every possible type of structure to suit all requirements – from the very grandest buildings to the cosiest places imaginable – so there will be one just perfect for every couple.
What was also appealing to my wife and I was how involved we were with making the day personal to our specific tastes – from multiple tastings of sausages, mash and different gravies to a wine tasting evening. Unlike many other types of venues, there is a much more flexible approach taken by pubs, probably because that’s what they are all about at heart. This even enabled me to bring in some of my own bottled beer, Nuptial Ale (specially brewed for the occasion by St Peter’s Brewery in Suffolk), and to also source a barrel of Timothy Taylor’s Landlord.   
Throughout the lead up to the big day, the manager of the pub seemed to be enjoying the whole process just as much we were. This was probably because weddings were an irregular occurrence for the venue – it was certainly not churning them out like a sausage factory. This friendly and relaxed engagement was fully reflected in the day itself, and it is this more informal style that is proving to be in demand as 47% of people due to attend a wedding this year have described it as being informal and laid-back. 
As pubs look to investigate all potential revenue streams at this tough time, the wedding must surely represent a great opportunity. As people emerge from covid-19 and the desire to come together and celebrate in a comfortable, relaxed environment increases, the pub strikes me as being the perfect place in which to toast the bride and groom.
Glynn Davis is a leading commentator on retail trends

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