On Wednesday night, MPs backed the European Union Bill by 498 votes to 114, allowing the Prime Minister to begin the Brexit process. While the bill still faces more debate, negotiation and discussion before it can become law, Brexit is well and truly happening…
On 24th June 2016, it seemed to many of us in the hospitality and catering industry that the sky had fallen in. Against all expectation, British voters narrowly voted in favour of the UK leaving the EU. Uncertainty, disbelief, upset and confusion ensued for those who felt passionately about Britain remaining a member of the EU.
But here’s the thing. Over seven months later, and even with the passing of the Bill, the world hasn’t stopped turning. Coffee is still being brewed in Edinburgh’s cool, urban coffee houses. Afternoon teas are still being served in London’s quintessentially British tea rooms. People of all persuasions are still punting in Cambridge. And diners are still flocking to restaurants across Manchester, York, Brighton and Glasgow. The sun still rises in the east and sets in the west. Sure, there’s still uncertainty, markets are still fluctuating, yet as we get ever closer to Article 50 being triggered we must all take a more positive view, hard as it may seem.
Newly released figures show that unemployment has fallen, hospitality spending has risen by 8.9%and investment is up. The decline of the pound is encouraging overseas visitors to take advantage of Britain’s lower prices, and “staycations” are on the rise, benefitting both local and national tourism. There is also an increase in high spending European incentive groups, and travellers from Asia and the US. In fact, since the Brexit result, spending by Japanese visitors is up 96 per cent and travellers from Indonesia have spent 88 per cent more on tax- free shopping than the same period in 2015.
Of course there are seemingly overwhelming challenges to overcome. Our weakened currency means that foreign imports, such as wine and olive oil, will become more expensive and we will all have to find ways to remain competitive. Restricted freedom of movement would make it more difficult for our European visitors to enter the UK and will certainly restrict hiring staff from overseas, on which many of us are reliant.
However, with every threat comes opportunity. Hotels, restaurants, bars and bistros can get creative about using suppliers closer to home, boosting their local economy, supporting their communities and reducing food miles, all of which support corporate responsibility and improve brand image. For staff, recruit on personality then focus on training & development. Consider scholarships, work placements, internal workshops and even on-line training. Build a relationship with local schools and colleges, offer work placements and nurture emerging talent.
The hospitality industry has survived 9/11, recession, Mad Cow disease and the fuel crisis. Brexit is another challenge I’m sure we will face head on with strength, positivity and by working closely together to ensure continued growth and development.
Victus Consultancy can help, support and guide you with all aspects of running a hospitality and catering business, including procurement and staff training. Pick up the ‘phone, drop us a line and we can get the ball rolling.