Reports this week suggest the hospitality and foodservice supply chain is set to face severe staffing challenges in the coming weeks.
Pub and restaurant owners told the FT that many staff recalled for reopenings last week didn’t want to come back. Mitchells & Butlers chief executive Phil Urban told the paper that 9,000 of his 39,000 staff had left since the first lockdown with many taking jobs in home delivery or essential retail.
“People said actually we are not going to come back. I don’t think restaurateurs realise how serious it is,” added Jeremy King, chief executive of Corbin & King, which owns The Wolseley and Delaunay restaurants in London.
ONS data released this week showed that 355,000 of the 813,000 employees removed from payrolls since March 2020 were working in the accommodation and foodservice activities sector. The figures “convey the current fragility of hospitality but also the sector’s importance to national economic recovery”, said UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls.
There are issues looming at the other end of the supply chain too. The Grocer this week reported that the government has scrapped its ‘Pick for Britain’ campaign, which was aimed at recruiting UK-based workers for seasonal farm jobs. There is “real concern” about whether there will be enough staff for the peak June/July season, according to the British Growers Association.
In better news, a CGA survey found that 44% of adults have visited the hospitality sector since Monday April 12th (higher than the 35% who returned in the first 10 days of reopening after the end of England’s first national lockdown in July 2020).
People who have been out have made an average of 2.4 visits each, and nearly all said their visit was better than expected (45%) or as expected (52%).