Housing solution

Hospitality firm buys accommodation for staff

Seaforth Chef Venca Jaros (left), duty manager Demi Yorke and general manager Jody Keating

A highland hospitality business has responded to the shortage of housing available for workers by acquiring a nearby motel to accommodate them.

J&R Group, owner of The Seaforth in Ullapool, has made 10 rooms available for local and international workers, with an additional apartment housing managerial staff. 

“Because of our location it is very difficult to find private rental accommodation for staff. In fact, it is virtually impossible,” said Delia Keating, recruitment manager.

“We were in the situation where we could not fully open our business because it was limited by accommodation for staff.

“We have a mix of local and international staff, here, so it is really important for them to be able to have a home, but there is such a lack of affordable accommodation. We have even had other local businesses asking if we can house their staff because they are struggling to retain good people.”

The highland housing shortage, exacerbated by fewer EU workers coming to the UK, has placed severe staffing pressures on hospitality and tourism providers in the highlands and islands.

Recent council housing builds in Ullapool, a scenic coastal stop on the hugely popular NC500 route, were snapped up fast. 

Last year Salmon Scotland chief, Tavish Scott, described the affordable housing shortage as “the most pressing issue we face in the Highlands and Islands”.

Similarly, a 2017 HIE report identified housing as having “:a critical influence on the ability of businesses to recruit and retain staff”.

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