This last 12 months have been both very exciting and challenging time for our sector.
Whilst I’m sure some people are desensitised to discussions around the uncertain political climate, there is no way of avoiding some of the issues and challenges that it has created.
The last year has been an escalation of labour issues within hospitality as a whole, proving a real threat to the sustainable growth of the sector. It is no secret that the sector has struggled with recruitment for some time and the current political uncertainty hasn’t helped. Awareness of this is something that many of us, alongside the newly-formed UK Hospitality, are aiming to achieve.
We know that recruitment and retention of employees is vital to maintain growth. This is why we have spent a lot of time focussing on how we look after our BM family and have created a number of initiatives which help them to develop and grow within their roles. Most recently, we were thrilled to be named as the only caterer to win the 2018 Princess Royal Training Award by City and Guilds Group.
This award is testament to the efforts we are going to, to ensure that our teams are well trained and motivated to succeed in their roles.
The last year has also seen issues around food inflation have a direct impact on our sector.
Increasing oil prices and poor UK farming yields has made it more expensive to do business. Our chefs and culinary teams have spent a lot of time developing creative and sustainable menus to ensure that we mitigate against these challenges. This is where training and development is crucial. Arming our chefs with access to more training is vital to help us continue to develop menus which utilise seasonal and sustainable produce. This will only increase in importance in the coming year.
We’ve also seen a major shift in perceptions around single-use plastic (SUP). Increased customer and client awareness around the issues created by plastic has had a real impact on the way business is conducted.
For us, a large proportion of our activity has been focussed on the educational piece. Whilst it is fantastic to see more eyes on the issue, it is equally important for us to help client and customers understand the bigger picture. Plastic for us is not ‘evil’, however, sensible use and re-use is vital. This issue has been an integral part of our conversations around sustainability.
Finally, we have also seen some significant challenges which have arisen through the prospect of future legislation being proposed. For example, the proposed Government nutritional strategy around labelling is likely to cause significant issues for small, fresh food businesses. We are currently supporting UK Hospitality’s efforts to ensure that Government comes up with a sustainable and practical solution.