Sainsbury’s Raises Its Wages

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The retail giant Sainsbury’s has announced that it will increase its basic pay above the national minimum wage, as well as offering all of its 130,000 staff new contracts. The pay rate will jump to £9.80 an hour in London and £9.20 across the country; all part of its plans to invest £100 million in its employees in 2018.

“The retail sector has never been more competitive and we know that our customers really value our colleagues and the excellent service they provide in our shops; which is why we think it is so important to invest further in our colleagues so they feel rewarded and motivated to do the best possible job for our customers every day,” said Sainsbury’s retail and operations director Simon Roberts.

Sainsbury’s will introduce new contracts that will ensure ‘consistency and fairness’ for staff across all of its stores, no matter their age or the length of time they have worked there. The company will also cut the current 22 roles to just five: food services assistant, general merchandise and clothing assistant, online assistant, services assistant, and trading assistant.

Although the staff will see a pay rise, annual bonuses and paid breaks will no longer be offered to them. To counterbalance this decision, those affected will see top-up payments for 18 months. This change is currently discussed with the staff and will be introduced in September.

However attractive this announcement is, Unite has urged its 12,000 members to reject the deal: “Our members will have to make a number of sacrifices to secure this rate of pay, which includes the removal of paid breaks and Sunday premium pay, as well as a number of changes to the attendance policy. Unite believes these strings will offset any rise in basic pay,” said Bev Clarkson, Unite’s acting national officer for food and drink.

Even though Sainsbury’s proposed pay rise will be above the National Living Wage, it still remains below the ‘real’ living wage in London, determined by the Living Wage Foundation. While the staff across the country will get a boost, those living in the capital still need more money.

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Dealing with the No-Shows Epidemic

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The hospitality industry is facing a new crisis – the rise in no-shows, with restaurants reporting an increase in weekly no-shows of up to 20%, leading to the loss of thousands of pounds. Nick Telson, the Co-founder of DesignMyNight, has decided to discuss this phenomenon and look into what can be done to tackle this issue.

First of all, no matter how advanced technology becomes, the number one priority of every hospitality business has to be customer experience. “I’m a firm believer that great service and an even greater experience can, and does make up for average food and drink,” said Nick. It is vital to understand that customers want a dining experience up to a certain level and will always choose the place that offers them exactly that.

Research shows that when a customer has an excellent dining experience on their first visit, they are 40% more likely to come back. If their second visit is still excellent then the chances increase to 42%, but if the third visit is still at the same high level then the likelihood of the customer to become a regular increases to 70%.

In order to deal with the no-shows crisis, operators and service providers must work together and highlight its impact to the press and through social media. Naming and shaming will not work. Rather than doing that, sharing stories about how the no-shows are putting jobs at risk will resonate with the consumers.

DesignMyNight includes Collins, which is an online hospitality platform that helps operators manage booking and enquiries. Clients will be using the card authentication system at the point of booking, so if they don’t show up the money will be pulled from their account into the operator’s. However, this should be used with discretion and mainly for busier service periods.

The front of house gets very busy, so trying to call customers to check if they will be showing up or not is not very time-efficient. To make it easier for operators, the system texts customers before they are due and they simply have to reply with ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to confirm their booking.

“I would also recommend that operators mark customers as no-shows in their booking system. This allows them to keep a list of regular offenders and send them a friendly, but informative email or they have the option to stop them from making future bookings,” said Nick.

To conclude, Nick is offering his top three tips on how to deal with no shows:

1. Start taking upfront card authentications for busier periods and see whether this has an impact on decline of bookings versus no-shows. I would say it won’t.

2. Be upfront with customers via your website, on the booking journey and through social media, telling them how important it is to respect the no-show problem. You’ll find the majority of customers will react better to the issue when they realise the significant impact on the industry.

3. Use pre-ordering as a mechanism to act as a deposit while also up-selling to the customer.

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Bubblewrap Waffle Celebrates Its First Birthday

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Bubblewrap Waffle will be celebrating its first birthday on Thursday, the 8th of March, with a limited edition Bad Bubblewrap, custom made balloons offered to the first 100 customers, Buy One Get One Free all day, and the chance to win a Bubblewrap every month for a year.

The Bad Bubblewrap is created in partnership with Bad Brownie, fellow market trader friends, and it consists of an original waffle base and vanilla gelato topped with popcorn, chocolate crunchies, chocolate sauce and a Bad Brownie Egg. The Bad Brownie Egg is made using Bad Brownie’s signature chocolate brownie, filled with mango and passionfruit, wrapped in a coconut fondant layer and then covered in a creamy white chocolate to finish. The price for it is £7.99.

Additionally, a Buy One Get One Free offer will be available for the entire day and the first 100 customers will receive a Bubblewrap Birthday Balloon. The competition to win a Bubblewrap every month for a year runs from the 5th of March until the 11th of March and those wishing to participate have to follow @BubblewrapLDN on Instagram, post a Bubblewrap Selfie and tag it with the hashtag #birthdaywaffle.

Bubblewrap started as a University project and then moved into the Berwick Street market. After that they moved into tiny premises on Wardour Street, followed by an explosion on social media that further generated global print, TV, radio, and online news, which led to a sale of 175,000 Bubblewraps in a year.

The reinvention of this Hong Kong classic street snack captured the imagination of London, which resulted in Time Out London’s highest ever performing Facebook video, with 21 million views, 138,000 shares, 141,000 likes, and 148,000 comments. When the Wardour Street shop opened, queues of up to three hours filled the street and the wait never dropped below an hour for the first nine months.

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