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Difficult few months

Pubs and restaurants won’t staff up until end of 2021

Bar Brig - Leith

Pubs are facing a difficult few months (pic: Terry Murden)

Pubs and restaurants groups are facing collapse and those that survive may not be hiring staff until the end of next year, according to industry leaders.

A forum on the Scottish hospitality sector heard dire warnings about the months ahead with staff drifting into other sectors and young people opting to take this as a gap year in view of difficulties getting work during their studies.

The findings emerged from 28 hospitality industry figures discussing the shape of the sector in the wake of the coronavirus. They were drawn together remotely by EP Business in Hospitality and Catering Scotland.

Hospitality businesses are now coming together to share knowledge and work more collaboratively in the belief that they can achieve more when businesses work together.

The following key factors were raised:

  • Workforces will be downsized but the hope is that many businesses can start to re-employ from late 2021.
  • The high street will be hard hit and many restaurant and pub groups could face CVAs.
  • In universities, virtual learning will become a reality and many students may well take a gap year during this period.
  • The industry will lose talent as it finds work in other industries.
  • There is real concern over mental health among the young during this crisis and it was noted how we must provide hope and a positive vision for the future for them. 
  • There is a real leadership role that industry needs to engage with to ensure younger employees do not lose faith in the sector.

Chris Sheppardson, CEO at EP Business in Hospitality, said: “There is a notable desire to keep everyone communicating and collaborating during this crisis.

“While there is little clarity or certainty in terms of how the sector will operate in the coming months, keeping contact and communications open and consistent will ensure we are better connected, better informed and better placed to act when the time comes.”

The discussion also highlighted hope for the sector:

  • It was noted that many businesses understand that they need root and branch reform and a greater balance and focus on investing in talent and sustainability.
  • Even if the sustainability agenda has taken a short-term step back during this crisis, it will return with a greater emphasis and importance.
  • There is a need for progressive thinking and plans in relation engaging the young from early years, and keeping up the momentum throughout their education. It was noted how good it is to see cookery re-emerge in the home during this period.
  • Hotels can be the safe places for many. A number of companies are developing new cleaning methodologies, and design too will play a more important role. It was commented that as many people work more remotely from offices, will they start to combine holidays with work, so accommodation providers need to consider spaces that accommodate both work and leisure?

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