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Brexprest


I’ve spent years of my almost 50 worrying about things that will never happen.  

Maybe menopause has brought the wisdom that I’ve been seeking and now find myself calmer, less stressed, more planned and more aware of the future and the changes that we may or may not need to make in life or in business.  Helped hugely, of course with the brilliant team Victor and I have around us. They keep the customers happy and we can keep the team happy.

But this week like others recently I’ve found myself Brexprest… that’s short for Brexit depressed.

Successful business needs a clear vision; a planned strategy; the resource to deliver and an eye on the risks that could steer it off course.  And the unflinching courage to make any necessary or urgent changes to keep it on course.

In my opinion, and in the opinion of all our team, all our suppliers and the vast majority of our customers, Brexit is going to be the biggest disaster (after the financial crisis of 2008) in our history.  

Recent party conferences have left me frustrated that we are creating so much uncertainty and so much risk not only for today but for our next generations. I do feel the politicians get paid regardless of what mess they leave the rest of us to clean up.  

Competition is good. Challenge is good. But both need values and foundation.  Airy fairy unreality will help no one. And lies should be held accountable in whatever capacity they are delivered.

Peace and free movement of labour are two of the greatest gifts to have come out of our agreement with Europe.

Peace I pray we are able to keep (although who knows what could happen in Ireland if we end up with a no deal) but we are soon to lose the labour supply that has fed our industry and our nation and cared for our people over the last decades.  We are going to lose our army that we need to sustain our economy and compete in an international market.

The hospitality sector has been talking about a skills shortage for several years.  The folly of thinking that we have a willing homegrown workforce to learn the jobs that our sector is crying out for is laughable.  Hospitality is tough. It’s not an easy 9-5 and unfortunately it is seen too often as a subservient career.

Since restaurants started to open in the 1920s they have been relying on a largely European work force to service them.  Our family can testify to this. Hard working immigrants willing to tackle any job for little reward to feed their families.  

Our politicians love confusing the public with sound bites and empty promises.  

The migration policy announcement will be disastrous for the service sector. Only skilled workers earning over £50,000 per year will be allowed working visas.  This will mean only the very very top end of the hospitality sector will qualify. Roles such as hotel general managers and executive chefs of large chains will pass the test.  What do we do for the other 95% of the jobs that we need?

What’s ironic is if the tip for waiting staff only policy comes into force then some of our front of house team, deemed low skilled under the migration policy, could walk away with £50,000 per year with their wages topped up with tips.  They may get the money but there will be nobody to cook, wash the dishes or make the coffee. That’s not a restaurant I would go back to in a hurry. Policy makers have no idea how our sector functions.

Brexit has brought a weak pound.  This has been beneficial for the tourism growth that Scotland in particular has experienced over the last 18 months.  This tourism has come from Europe, Asia and America. But the weak pound is starting to cost us with a fall in migration (as its now better value for our European friends to work in other non UK cities) and with increased supply costs of food, wine and anything we’re not able to grow at home and rely on largely from our European cousins.  Buying from across the globe will only create bigger long term environmental problems that our planet can certainly not afford.

The policy makers yet again have the wrong end of the stick. With business rate hikes, struggling high streets and even the talk of a Tourism Tax the powers at be are squeezing hospitality dry.  There are much bigger fish to fry (Amazon, Apple, AirBnB etc) why are they trying to drown hospitality. Are we the low lying fruit – easy to be squashed!

I had been optimistic that we would wake up on 29th March 2019 and Brexit won’t have happened.  Unfortunately I can’t see this and I do fear that Brexit will become a reality. Deal or no deal.

Businesses like ours can’t plan for the level of uncertainty the next 18 months will bring.  What we have to do is keep doing what we know is the right thing for our customers and for our team.  Be fair and honest and work hard than ever. Keep calm, don’t flinch and be ready to adapt to the changes that we’re going to have to cope with.  I can’t see our politicians on any side having the courage to say no and allowing a #PeoplesVote. We may have no choice, but we carry and deliver a Optamixit yes!