GIG - UK Hospitality: facing our demons
UK Hospitality: facing our demons

From our Managing Director, Antony Woodcock

It’s official, Jamie’s Italian has gone into administration. After pumping in £13 million of his own cash into the business venture, the naked chef has had to close doors to what was once a huge success story on the high street.

But what brought about this sudden downturn and what does it say about the UK Hospitality sector today?

Of course, critics will have a lot to say about how and why and to be fair poor management product delivery and over-expansion must take some of the blame but mostly it must lie with a tough economic climate driven by a declining high-street and rising business rates. We had all heard of Jamie’s Italian being on the rocks but the sudden closure also shows the fragility of our beloved hospitality industry.

The reality is, the hospitality industry is facing an unprecedented period of unrest

A one-off case would point the finger solely at the operation itself, but this is now not an uncommon story. According to reports, 15 restaurants closed each and every week in the year ending March 2019, with the likes of Byron Burger, Patisserie Valerie, Prezzo and Carluccios either closing large swaths of eateries or going into administration.

The reality is, the hospitality industry is facing an unprecedented period of unrest, with the issues of economic/Brexit uncertainty, tightening margins and changing consumer trends being pocketed as seemingly uncontrollable factors.

97% of Britain’s youth have written off the hospitality industry as a career option.

The question is, what can we in the hospitality industry actually control, aside from our own business?

While the consensus is to shrug our shoulders at Brexit or rising rental costs, we believe issues such as the skills gap, worker retention and the stigmas facing our industry can, in fact, be tackled – if we work together.

Alongside the news of Jamies Italian, an alarming statistic around the perception of our industry has come to light: 97% of Britain’s youth have written off the hospitality industry as a career option.

It’s a worrying statistic to say the least. Staff turnover has always been linked to rising staffing costs and with such a high proportion of today’s youth not even seeing hospitality as a long-term option, those costs are only going to rise.

The fact is, the perception of our industry is incredibly poor. Although notoriously social and fast-paced, many people view the industry as a stop-gap job, with doubts over wages, working conditions and career progression.

developing a bespoke discussion panel alongside Springboard Charity to help change the poor perception plaguing our industry – and we want you to get involved.

We believe there is both a short and long-term approach to tackling these issues. Short-term action lies in the industry widening its traditional talent pool and ensuring it can accommodate the needs of this new talent, looking specifically at flexibility, autonomy and a healthy work-life balance, something which lies at the core of GIGs beliefs.

However, the long-term approach must focus on shifting the overall perception of the industry in today’s youth – looking at the overall strategy we take as a sector in not only attracting young talent but also showing them the potential for growth and the benefits of a long-term career.

Although we do this through our own Hospitality Apprenticeships in the GIG Academy, we’re also in the process of developing a bespoke discussion panel alongside Springboard Charity to help change the poor perception plaguing our industry – and we want you to get involved.

Ironically, Jamie Oliver has notoriously promoted the hospitality industry towards the UK’s youth – from primary school to apprenticeships. But whether it was the economic climate or a case of putting their heads in the sand, the fall of Jamie’s Italian only reflects a deep need for us all to look at how we can help the industry, not just survive in it.

We believe focusing on today’s youth is a key part of this movement. 

To find out more about how we’re focusing on changing the stigmas facing our industry, simply get in touch with me directly or with the team at marketing@gigtogig.co.uk