Managing Director Liam Humphreys gives his assessment of a huge year in the industry, and reminds readers that our expert advice is just a phone call away.
What a difference a year makes? After the blazing hot summer of 2018, which saw the hospitality sector grow strongly, breaking through the £100 billion mark, 2019 seemed an altogether more challenging proposition. Whatever part of the hospitality market you were in you will have faced challenges including: Brexit uncertainty, continued strong rises in minimum wage rates, excessive business rates and the ever accelerating shortage of people.
This was felt most strongly in the high street, leading to the closure of over 1,400 restaurants in the UK. Both the previously thriving independent market and a number of leading brands closed their doors, a rise of 25% over 2018. Jamie’s Italian, Gaucho, Prezzo, Carluccios, GBK, Byron and Strada were just a few of the familiar names that were forced into numerous store closures or ceased trading altogether.
The Hotel Sector seemed to power on with a continued rise in room numbers (4% in London alone), a rise in rev par for most groups and continued inward investment from European and Far Eastern investors driving continued activity — albeit the levels appear to be falling. Whilst the outlook for 2020 remains positive most of our client’s optimism is at best tentative — with a close eye on the economy. That said, the level of innovation in proposition continues at pace, from Whitbread offering a new £19 per night concept to beautiful luxury hotels such as the Vintry & Mercer in the City of London, not to mention the rapid expansion of the extended stay market.
The contract catering market remained resilient in 2019, albeit average margins fell for the third consecutive year to 5.8% as did average revenue growth to 9.6%. Despite this, 2019 was a strong year for M&A with major investments by private equity in WSH and CH&Co and a raft of acquisitions, the most notable being CH&Co’s acquisition of Gather & Gather from Mitie.
It’s been our pleasure at Berkeley Scott to help all these sectors both with supplying quality temporary staff and also targeted searches for key management and culinary roles. The challenge of recruiting and retaining hospitality professionals is as acute as ever and the candidates are ever more aware of their marketability and the potential rewards in the wider market.
Our salary survey is drawn from the activity of our 50 dedicated consultants located across the UK and reflect their regional, functional and sector expertise and are a great starting point when trying to understand what the correct reward levels should be for any given role. If you wish more specialist and detailed advice please do not hesitate to contact me for a free consultation.
Here’s to a great 2020.