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All Posts By Shawni Dunne

Hourly Hospitality Pay Outstripping Minimum Wage

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A recent research report produced by Fourth analytics has revealed that hourly pay for UK hospitality workers is already significantly outstripping new legal minimum wage thresholds.

According to MCA, average hourly rates for hospitality workers in the UK have now reached £7.71 per hour for all ages, including the under 21s.

Analytics and Insight Solution Director at Fourth, Mike Shipley, said: “With actual pay significantly outstripping the legal minimum for all age thresholds, businesses are clearly experiencing very strong employment-cost inflation.

Clearly it is difficult to predict whether this momentum will continue but there’s no sign of a levelling off at the moment. We expect to see the hourly-rate average in hospitality hitting £8 in January 2017, and we could well see average rates approaching £8.50 by April 2017 – when the next incremental increase comes into force. This could see the minimum legal living wage (for over-25s) move up to between £7.50 and £7.65.

“What’s particularly striking is that the under-21s are fast catching up, earning on average £1.53 or 29 per cent, above their legal rate. This could be driven by wage parity policies, and also general competitive pressure for good people.”

The government has revealed that further increases in National Living Wage are expected in April next year.

Whilst the industry is experiencing a significant growth in wages, it is also experiencing growth and development in sales achieved per worker per hour. This has risen from £31.94 in 2014 to £34.88.

Shipley said: “It is clear that many of our clients are engaged in productivity programmes and initiatives, such as smarter rota scheduling and driving the amount of revenue taken per worker / per labour hour.

“It is one of the key ways that hospitality and leisure companies can combat this era of aggressive labour inflation,” he said.

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Chinese Tourists Spend £50K on Whisky

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Research has revealed that whisky connoisseurs from China are making trips to Britain to indulge in lavish alcohol spending sprees with particular focus on single malts. It has been revealed that Chinese whiskey lovers are spending up to £50,000 a time on British scotch.

One London store has revealed to The Independent that visitors from China will frequently spend thousands of pounds of aged single malts. “One buyer was frustrated that we only had three bottles of the Macallan Blue Label [a 30-year-old sherry oak malt] in stock,” said the boss of the store.

“So he asked whether he could just send his driver to the distillery to pick up some. This guy was all set to drive north of Aberdeen to grab a few bottles, until some were sourced from another store.”

Chinese tourists can save a significant amount of money by travelling to the UK to buy whiskey. Hong Kong, for example, charges 100 per cent duty of spirits entering the country, whereas tourists bringing bottles back from the UK do not typically declare it.

China has the largest number of billionaires outside of America and many Chinese people have an interest in traditional British heritage goods and whiskey is considered to be a gem of Scottish heritage.

A sales associate at another London store said: “You’d think we’d roll out the gold carpet – but it’s a really common occurrence.”

“Some customers have a good understanding of whisky and you can tell when they’re in the market for something they’ll enjoy.

“Others have an ‘expensive is better’ mentality, which suggests the bottle is more of a wealth signifier in the boardroom or wherever.”

This month, The Scotch Whiskey Association has urged the UK government to prioritise negotiating free trade deals with Brazil, India and China in a post-Brexit UK.

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Lidl and Iceland Beat Harrods in Christmas Taste Test

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A blind taste test conducted by Good Housekeeping Magazine has revealed that customers seeking the best mince pies and prosecco this festive season should head to budget retailers Iceland and Lidl. Lidl’s £5.29 Allini Prosecco Spumante came out on top in Good Housekeeping’s December edition and Luxury Mince Pies from Iceland were deemed as the best in their category, beating the likes of prestigious highly priced retailers Harrods and Selfridges.

The Iceland mince pies, priced at £1.50, were praised by testers for their “juicy mince meat” and “lovely crisp and buttery pastry case.”

At the top of the table for turkey was Iceland’s £4.95 a kg Luxury British Whole Brined Turkey with Orange & Thyme Butter which excelled above options from other retailers. Its Luxury Outdoor Bred Pork, Honey and Rosemary Parcels stuffing was also voted as the best in the vote.

Caroline Bloor, consumer director at Good Housekeeping, said: “Our expert team and panel of consumer testers blind test an incredibly wide range of Christmas products, so we can be very confident that these results shine a light on the food and drink that tastes the best.

“Everyone loves a bargain and so it’s good to see Iceland mince pies and Lidl prosecco beating more expensive upmarket brands.”

Market giants M&S appeared most frequently in the survey and made the top five in 10 of the 12 categories tested. The company won the Stilton and mulled wine tests as well as claiming first place for the Christmas pudding with its £12 The Collection Belgian Chocolate & Orange Star Christmas Pudding for its “delicious twist on a traditional pud.”

Iceland’s £6 Luxury 12-month Matured Christmas Pudding came a close second, astounding testers with its high quality and taste.

Newcomer Ocado.com topped the category for best champagne with its £19.99 Champagne Faubert Brut NV.

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Starbucks Launches Espresso Cloud IPA

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Starbucks has created an experimental IPA beer topped with a shot of espresso. Having taken the team a year to develop, the combination is the creation of coffee master Justin Burns-Beach. The idea for the new drink came from the mixing process behind Starbucks’ Shakerato. During the process a mixture of espresso and syrup is shaken until it becomes frothy, which is the inspiration behind the cloud of micro-film which lies on top of the pint.

The beer is served with the cold-shaken espresso on the side in a shot glass, but Justin believes it should be poured in for the best affect.

“Mainly what I wanted was the foam to put on top to get that head on the beer but I didn’t want to waste the espresso so that’s when I decided to just pour it into the shot glass and have them both side by side,” he said.

“Then it was like, what happens if you just pour in a little bit? Seeing the effect of that was just mind-blowing. The visual of it, watching another cloud develop was really exciting.”

The drink is a refreshing combination of vanilla orange infused espresso with sharp and citrusy IPA. The drink will be available in select Starbucks locations across the country as part of the chain’s ‘evenings’ menu.

However, women’s health expert Jennifer Haythe, M.D, has suggested that “there is evidence that the combination can impair the drinker’s judgment more than alcohol alone,” and that the mix of caffeine and alcohol could be “very dangerous” as the “combination can lead to risky behaviors.”

Recent research published in The Journals of Gerontology has suggested that drinking coffee every day could help fight off dementia. The study revealed that older women who have more coffee were less likely to experience cognitive impairment.

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Food Security on the Menu at The University of Salford

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The University of Salford has joined forces with crisis assistance company red24 plc to offer specialist courses in food security. The MSc Risk and Crisis Management (Food Safety Assurance) will begin in January and will offer those working in the sector, or those trying to get into it, the opportunity to update their skills and learn about the latest regulations.

Dr James Mulkeen, Associate Dean Academic of the Business School at the University of Salford said: “We think this is a really innovative solution to a gap in the market. If you look at the food and drink industry it’s one of the largest sectors in the UK economy and is subject to vast amounts of regulation.  Despite that there are very few high level programmes for technicians and managers in the sector.

“Changes in legislation mean that all producers will have to demonstrate due diligence. That will mean they will need qualified staff who can respond to those demands and ensure that producers comply with the regulations”.

With James’ help, Eric Smith and Grant Cropper fromred24 plc developed the programme. Eric said: “This course is unique in that it has been developed by industry, for industry. It’s about managing risk, and specialists from red24, who have experience of working on global risk issues, will co-teach and assess the modules.”

Grant said: “This course is unique in that it has been developed by industry, for industry. It’s about managing risk, and specialists from red24, who have experience of working on global risk issues, will co-teach and assess the modules.”

Dr Mulkeen added: “This is just the start of our relationship with red24. We are looking at developing into many of the other areas and offering courses for example in financial risk management or risk management in the health care sector.”

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UK’s Top 10 Fish and Chip Restaurants Announced

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The top ten fish and chips shops in the UK have been announced by the 2017 National Fish & Chip Awards, organised by Seafish. The 10 businesses will now compete for the Independent Fish and Chip Restaurant of the Year Award in order to claim the title of ‘the best fish and chip restaurant in the UK.’

In order to reach this stage the restaurants have faced appraisal by industry experts across a wide variety of judging criteria. In the coming weeks they will be subjected to further mystery shopping assessments and in-depth judging audits.

The 10 finalists are as follows:

  • Trenchers Restaurant in Whitby, North Yorkshire
  • Mister C’s in Selby, North Yorkshire
  • Harbour Lights in Falmouth, Cornwall
  • Lloyds in Lampeter, Ceredigion
  • The Fisherman’s Wife in Whitby, North Yorkshire
  • The Elite Fish & Chip Company in Lincoln, Lincolnshire
  • The Pelican in Barnstaple, Devon
  • Catch Fish and Chips in Glasgow, East Renfrewshire
  • Seafresh Restaurant in Pimlico, London
  • Something Else Fishy in Sherborne, Somerset

The next stage of the competition will see five of the ten restaurants making it through to the next phase where the remaining businesses will battle for first place. The top accolade will be presented at the awards ceremony held in London in January next year.

Chief Executive of Seafish, Marcus Coleman, said: “This award recognises our country’s best fish and chip restaurants for their commitment and high level of professionalism across all aspects of running a successful restaurant.

“The quality of entries this year has been outstanding; I know the judges were extremely impressed with the businesses’ in-depth knowledge and thorough understanding of our industry – it was a tough job determining a final 10.

“I would like to thank our finalists for upholding our industry’s high standards, helping us to reinforce the UK’s reputation as the home of the world’s best fish and chips.”

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Andrea Leadsom Reveals Plans for Food and Drink Export Drive to Boost Economy

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Andrea Leadsom has announced that a plan to increase British food and drink exports across the world could boost the economy by around £3 billion.

The Environment Secretary made the announcement at the world’s largest food trade fair, SIAL Paris. She said: “With over £10 billion worth of food and drink sold overseas in the last seven months and exports up almost 6% compared to 2015, there is no doubt we are open for business and ready to trade.

“Our food and drink is renowned for having the very best standards of animal welfare, quality and safety and I want even more of the world to enjoy what we have to offer.

“Scottish salmon, Welsh beef, Northern Irish whiskey and English cheese are already well-known globally and I want us to build on this success by helping even more companies send their top-quality food and drink abroad.”

Leadsom’s five year action plan focusses on targeting markets in 18 countries including Australia, New Zealand, Latin America and Japan.

Mark Garnier, International Trade Minister, commented: “The Government has put trade at the heart of its agenda with the creation of the Department for International Trade and we are working hard to help UK companies take advantage of the global demand for British goods and services.

“This ambitious new plan shows the strength of our commitment to boosting UK food and drink exports around the world.

“Whether it’s helping our businesses to understand target markets, providing access to trade missions or advice on export finance, we are committed to helping budding exporters realise their dreams of building a global business.”

Meanwhile, Food and Drink Federation director general Ian Wright commented: “We are supporting the Government’s export drive with an ambition to grow branded food and drink exports by a third by 2020 to £6 billion.

“Export growth is hugely important to our sector. We hope that the International Action Plan for Food and Drink will open more channels and provide direct support to new and existing food and drink exporters.”

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British Hospitality Association Launches ‘On Your Team’ SME Campaign

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The British Hospitality Association (BHA) has announced its new ‘On Your Team’ campaign, highlighting the benefits available to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) when they join the trade association.

The campaign will focus on industry issues of particular relevance or concern to independent hotels and restaurants. The focus will explain how the BHA’s extensive set of services can help.  The message communicated through the ‘On Your Team’ campaign is that joining the BHA means exclusive access to BHA services that benefit members. The BHA’s toolkits, templates, and timely updates make it easy to kick jobs off and their discounts ensure that members get the best deals.

Ufi Ibrahim, CEO of the BHA says: “Small and medium sized hotels and restaurants form a majority segment of the hospitality and tourism sector. As the leading trade organisation for the industry, it is our purpose to pursue the removal of critical barriers to growth for SMEs, and provide the tools and support for SMEs to implement regulations and make their businesses cost efficient.

“As an industry we face a myriad of challenges. Following the recent revaluation, businesses are subject to the biggest business rates change for years, and some hotel and restaurant owners will see large increases. Not only do we work to make sure our SME members’ issues are firmly on the government’s agenda, we also provide support to our members via our free legal helpline.

“Hotel and restaurant business owners juggle a large load. Our suite of benefits, that includes helplines, discounts, toolkits, templates and updates, has been designed to make sure that compliance and cost control don’t fall to the bottom of the priority list, keeping their businesses more profitable and their customers safer. That’s why we’re launching the ‘On Your Team’ campaign, to show SMEs how much they stand to gain from BHA membership.”

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Sodexo Wins €2M NUI Galway Contract

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Sodexo has won its first Irish university catering contract worth €2m annually, from NUI Galway, one of Ireland’s oldest and largest universities.

Sodexo will now be managing An Bhialann, the restaurant at the heart of NUI Galway’s campus, seating 720 people. Sodexo will work closely with local suppliers to offer food that is fresh, tasty and ethically-sourced whilst still competitively priced. With a commitment to locally-sourced and fresh food, Sodexo spent €21m on Irish food last year. A new selection of menu items will refresh and modernise the catering space.

Commercial manager at NUI Galway, Ann Duggan said: We are delighted to welcome Sodexo, the global leader in the provision of catering services within the University sector internationally, and look forward to working with this innovative company who will provide a bespoke food offering focusing on wholesome, locally sourced food enhanced through the involvement of local food advisers to students, staff and visitors.”

Chief Executive at Sodexo Universities UK, Ireland and Nordics said: This is a fantastic opportunity for Sodexo. NUI Galway is one of Ireland’s most well-respected and popular universities.

“Sodexo has an excellent reputation for catering and using locally sourced and fresh food in Ireland. We are confident we can bring together strong sector and local knowledge to provide a superbly-executed and innovative food offer for NUI Galway.”

Sodexo aims to minimise food waste by introducing LeanPath technology which allows kitchen staff to track, monitor and minimise waster using a tablet device.

Sodexo provides catering, accommodation, FM and hospitality services to 50 universities and colleges across the UK and Ireland. The company’s global universities business has a turnover of €2.6B.

The company delivers integrated services that improve the quality of life of clients in sectors including business, industry, education, financial and healthcare in Ireland. Sodexo employs 2,100 members of staff in 200 locations.

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Chipotle’s Spooky ‘Boo-rito’ Fundraiser Returns this Halloween

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This Halloween, visit any London Chipotle in fancy dress and score a burrito for just £2. Chipotle Mexican Grill will treat customers wearing fancy dress to a burrito, burrito bowl, salad or order of tacos for only £2. The fast food restaurant will donate all proceeds from the fundraiser to charity Action Against Hunger, with a minimum pledge of £10,000.

The group has six restaurants across London, including Soho, Baker Street, Islington and, more recently The City.

Director of Fundraising and Communications at Action Against Hunger, Matthew White commented: ‘We’re terrifyingly excited to be partnering with Chipotle on this year’s Boo-rito campaign.  Head on down to your nearest restaurant in fancy dress, enjoy some fang-tastic food for just £2 and help raise money for Action Against Hunger.  Bone appetite!’

UK Managing Director for Chipotle, Jacob Sumner said: ‘We are committed to changing the way people think about and eat fast food, and through our annual ‘Boo-rito’ fundraiser we have been able to impact organisations such as Action Against Hunger.  Our minimum pledge of £10,000 could provide up to 10,000 days’ worth of therapeutic food for malnourished children to help them regain their health’.

Chipotle began in the USA where it operates over 2,000. It opened its first restaurant outside North America, at Charing Cross Road in Central London in 2010. Chipotle has been recognised by Compassion in World Farming at the annual Good Animal Welfare Awards and has received a Good Chicken Award and a Good Pig Award. The company was praised for its approach to the sourcing of its raw ingredients and also for its commitment to using free-range pigs and RSPCA Freedom Food certified poultry for its chicken dishes.

Diners can participate in the fundraiser by visiting any London Chipotle restaurant on Monday 31st October in fancy dress and purchase any menu item for £2.

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