Quality employers support Passion4Hospitality 2018

untitledThe eighth edition of Passion4Hospitality, the Institute of Hospitality’s annual student and industry networking event, benefited from an extensive Careers Fair featuring nearly 40 companies looking for new talent.

Around 300 hospitality management students attended the all-day event which took place at Novotel London West on Monday (12 March). Students came from UK universities and colleges and from Stenden University in the Netherlands. They gained a wealth of advice on landing the right job during the interactive conference programme. They also had time to take full advantage of the excellent Careers Fair to make contact with the high-quality employers who are actively recruiting.


Represented at The Careers Fair were Royal Automobile Club, Victory Services Club, Shangri-La at the Shard, Georgian House, The Ritz, Dorchester Collection, Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane, Doyle Collection/The Bloomsbury, BaxterStorey, Evolve Hospitality, Novotel London West, Sarova Hotels, Foxhills, Gravetye Manor, Bespoke Hotels, Edition Hotels, Nadler Hotels, Hyatt, Waldorf Hilton, Iconic Luxury Hotels Group, The Savoy, Harbour Hotels Group, CH&Co, Splendid Hospitality, Exclusive Hotels and Venues, Catapult, Jurys Inn, Dorsett Hotels, Mandarin Oriental, Como Hotels and Resorts, SpaYse International, The Principal London, National Careers Service, Hospitality Assured, Dukes Collection, and Firmdale.

The HOTS Business Game runners-up from Stenden, Holland

Teams from six universities competed in the HOTS Business Game competition to run a virtual resort hotel. The winning team (above) was from Glion Institute of Higher Education, London. The runners-up came from Stenden University in the Netherlands. The University of Brighton came in third place. The competition was administered by Peter Russell MIH of the Russell Partnership.

Peter Ducker FIH, chief executive, Institute of Hospitality, introduced the event by telling students: “No one will ever care about your career as much as you do, so the sooner you start planning and setting yourself goals, the better.”

Get that job!

During a panel discussion, students were advised on how to stand out. Match the tone and message of your covering letter to the vacancy, said Shona Rye, director, Your Invisible Partner. Use social media as a research tool and go into the interview armed with information about the company, so that you are well-prepared when asked to contribute questions at the end of your interview, said Martin Smith, Collins King & Associates. Do not simply send in your CV and wait for a reply, said Neil Graham, managing director, SpaYse International. A follow-up phone call will help, and during the interview itself, recruiters are interested in personality.

Diversity dilemma

Asked whether she was in favour of quotas for female managers in hospitality, Debrah Dhugga FIH MI, managing director, Dukes Collection, replied: “I would never want to be given a job just because I was a woman.”

She added she would like to see more women at executive level: “A diverse board room generates a richness, a wider viewpoint in a world where women are increasingly a powerful force as consumers and business leaders.”

Diverse workplaces in general have advantages in terms of attaining customer loyalty, she said: “Value everyone in your organisation. Diversity refers to age, disability, religion, gender and more, and goes beyond just legal compliance. International work experience is of value and managers must be ready to harness the diversity of the workforce.”

Spotlight on the sectors

20180312_0528This panel discussion highlighted some of the lesser-known areas of employment in hospitality such as foodservice and private members clubs. Mark Field FIH, operations director, The Victory Services Club said that he found working in members clubs to be “a tremendous working environment where I can use my skills as a hotelier.” Jessica Berry, talent manager for The Doyle Collection, highlighted the similarities between her current role in human resources and her previous experience in event management. Delphine Delacroix AIH, MICE office manager at Novotel London West, added that working in events means that no two days are ever the same.

Adam Rowledge FIH, general manager, Georgian House, provided an extremely well-devised and useful A-Z of personal brand promotion. Using video well will give you a huge advantage on social media, he said, and concluded his presentation with a quote from Charles Buxton: “Experience shows that success is due less to ability than to zeal.”

Breaking the ice

Rory Kelly-Naughton, hotels business manager, Evolve, provided expert advice on networking. “Make contacts and then maintain them. I got my job with Evolve because I know the owner, even after six years. ”

Peter Ducker FIH concluded: “Passion4Hospitality is a highlight in our calendar and I always come away feeling inspired and energised. The speakers gave their time freely to help make today possible. My thanks to them; to all our sponsors; to the exhibitors at the Careers Fair; and also to Michael Sloan FIH and his team at the Novotel London West for their generosity as venue sponsors.”


The headline sponsor of Passion4Hospitality 2018 was Planday. The other sponsors were arena4finance, aslotel, the Council for Hospitality Management Education (CHME), Critiquie, Fresh Montgomery, Glion, HOTS, Novotel, Savoy Educational Trust, Stenden, SpaYse International.



The UK’s ‘saturated’ casual dining market and the way forward for Jamie’s Italian

jamies-italian-restaurant‘Jamie’s Italian’ restaurants have been stealing the headlines recently due to the chain’s  debts and the closure of 12 sites.  And according to a new report by accountancy firm UHY Hacker Young, Jamie’s Italian is not alone. One in three of the top 100 UK restaurant groups are currently making a loss: this figure is up 75% since last year.  Wayne Redge reports

After revealing that the celebrity chef’s Italian restaurant chain has amassed debts of £71.5 million whilst owing its staff a sum of £2.2 million, Jamie’s Italian has announced its plan to stabilise. Jamie’s Italian’s backers have agreed to site closures along with rent cuts to avoid the whole business from collapsing.

Other restaurant groups from the Top 100 in the UK have faced problems. Byron Burgers, Strada, Chimichanga and Prezzo are amongst the strugglers. These businesses are blaming Brexit, increased competition, rising minimum wages and increased business rates for their losses.

UHY Hacker Young’s Peter Kubik explains: “Pressures on the restaurant sector have been building for years, and the last year has pushed a number of major groups to breaking point. With Brexit hanging over consumers like a dark cloud, restaurants can’t expect a bailout from a surge in discretionary spending.”

Jamie’s Italian appointed a new CEO in October 2017, Jon Knight, who blames complacency for the group’s problems. Knight explained that although the group did very well in its first five years, failure to innovate in the last decade has led to them falling behind competitors. The business started recording losses in 2016, according to Knight, because: “other brands started doing what we were doing at a more affordable price. Suddenly they were the new thing. We didn’t invest in our estate or our brand so other newer, smarter and even smaller restaurants started to overtake us”.

Between 2010 and 2016, it seemed that every Briton was looking for affordable and casual dining venues. As a result, many companies formed, often paying inflated rents for prominent high street locations. The result has been a saturation of extremely similar mid-market restaurants that expanded quickly.  Statistics show that diners aren’t necessarily reducing the amount that they spend on restaurant eating, but they are expecting better value for money.

It is suggested that the larger chains are constantly cutting down their costs by sourcing potentially lower quality suppliers. There was much surprise that supposedly higher-end restaurants are using the same meat supplier as Wetherspoons. This feeling will drive diners to favour places that they trust to put quality over margins.

Back at Jamie’s Italian, Jon Knight has laid out a plan of action for the group that will improve on these ideas. To combat increased high street rents, the group will be learning from its successful  restaurants at Gatwick Airport to further diversify themselves at major transport hubs. They will also address a “growing disconnect” between Jamie Oliver and the restaurant group, which had “lost touch” with his original vision. Working more closely with Oliver by moving their head offices to the same site as his licensing, media and nutritional teams is said to be a push towards streamlining and focusing their efforts. They will also look to revamp their existing restaurants and offer staff additional training and a “competitive salary.”

Wayne Redge is marketing assistant at Smart Hospitality Supplies

35 of UK’s Top 100 restaurant groups now loss-making – up 75% in just a year

  • Oversaturated market, minimum wage hike put pressure on restaurants
  • Another minimum wage rise just weeks away

35 of the UK’s Top 100 restaurant groups are now loss-making, up 75% from just 20 last year, shows research by UHY Hacker Young, the national accountancy group.
UHY Hacker Young says that trading conditions have become increasingly difficult for restaurant chains dealing with oversaturation in the market as well as rising costs.
The firm adds that this research comes on the back of the high-profile struggles of several major restaurant chains in recent weeks, including:

  • Jamie’s Italian, started by Jamie Oliver, which has closed 12 branches as part of a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) to restructure its £71.5m debt
  • Byron, the burger chain, which may close up to 20 of its 67 branches following a period of paying reduced rent
  • Prezzo, the Italian chain, which is expected to close some of its 300 branches as part of a restructuring
  • Strada, another Italian chain, which closed 11 branches over the festive period
  • Barbecoa, another Jamie Oliver chain, which entered administration in mid-February
  • EAT, the sandwich chain, which was rumoured in early February to be considering closing some of its 100 branches

UHY Hacker Young says that pressures of competing with numerous similar ‘fast casual’ restaurants in an overcrowded high street are a major driver of many large restaurant groups registering losses over the past year.

It adds that the National Minimum wage, which has risen by an above-inflation 19% to £7.50 per hour over the last five years, has added a substantial cost burden to large restaurant chains. From April 2018, the minimum wage will rise even further to £7.83.

Peter Kubik, Partner at UHY Hacker Young, comments: “More than a third of the biggest companies in the restaurant sector are losing money, and there is little respite on the horizon.”

“Pressures on the restaurant sector have been building for years, and the last year has pushed a number of major groups to breaking point.”

“With Brexit hanging over consumers like a dark cloud, restaurants can’t expect a bailout from a surge in discretionary spending.”

“Consumers only have a finite amount of spending power when it comes to eating out, and the oversaturation of the market means that groups that fall foul of changing trends can very easily fail.”

“The Government has ratcheted up costs with a series of above-inflation rises in the minimum wage, and we are just weeks away from another 4.4% rise in April. That will be tough for a lot of restaurants to absorb.”

About UHY Hacker Young:

 The UHY Hacker Young Group is one of the UK’s Top 15 accountancy networks with 110 partners and more than 620 professional staff working from 22 locations around the country. The offices within the Group provide a wide range of accounting, tax and business advisory services, with a reputation for integrity and reliability within the financial community, and particularly with London’s Stock Markets. UHY Hacker Young are also ranked 15th in the ARL Corporate Advisers Rankings Guide amongst other UK audit firms for advising London Stock Exchange listed companies.

UHY Hacker Young is a founder member of the UHY International network with offices in every major financial centre in the world. Further information can be found at www.uhy-uk.com


How restaurants are reacting to Vegetarian Month

March is vegetarian month. Recent news shows that an estimated 29% of evening meals in the UK are vegetarian or vegan. These numbers only seem to be increasing, but just how is the hospitality industry reacting? Wayne Redge reports

Reports show that sales of meat-free ready meals were up by 15% in January compared to 12 months before. Vegan numbers went up from 150,000 in 2006 to 540,000 just a decade later, with 1.2 million vegetarians in addition to this in the UK. Not only that, but there has been an uprising of ‘flexitarians’, those who reduce their meat consumption by choosing to have meat-free days. As a result, evidence shows that 25% of people in Britain have cut back on how much meat they eat. With all of these figures on the rise, the transitions to a meat-free way of living aren’t just a ‘fad’.

Signs of the hospitality industry acknowledging these statistics has come with many different reactions. Nando’s, the Afro-Portuguese chain restaurant known for its chicken, has been consistently adding to its range of vegetarian and vegan options over the past few years. The spiced chicken giant has now announced that two more vegetarian dishes will be added to its menu: golden brown halloumi sticks served with a pot of sweet chilli jam dip to start, alongside a new main of Veggie Cataplana (a South African inspired stew dish.)

A host of vegetarian restaurants are also popping up, giving people who have adopted this lifestyle a lot more options. Run by former mentee of Gordon Ramsay, Minal Patel, “Prashad” is a 2 rosette and Bib Gourmand standard Indian cuisine restaurant. The personalised and crafted menu boards created by Smart Hospitality encase an all vegetarian menu that has been the talk of popular review site, Trip Advisor, since the restaurant opened its doors. Receiving the “Most Talked About Restaurant On Trip Advisor Award” and a “Certificate of Excellence” on the site, it is proof of the popularity that a vegetarian restaurant can receive by focusing its efforts towards a collective audience.

January of this year saw a mass of high-profile restaurants trying out full vegan menus or dishes for ‘Veganuary’. Harvey Nichols brought a full vegan menu to its OXO Tower restaurant in the shape of a three course vegan meal and vegan wine list. Upon opening their menu cover, guests were welcomed by the sights of Grilled Tofu with Miso and a Poached Pear and Blackberry Dessert.


Even Michelin Star chef, Tom Aitken took part in his Tom’s Kitchen restaurant . Teaming up with vegetarian burger company, The Vurger Co, he served up a hoisin glazed mushroom patty with pak choi, red cabbage and crunchy spring onions ( pictured above). Due to the success of this vegan burger, he has adopted a vegetarian burger to his main menu since then.

The amount of vegan festivals has seen a massive increase too, with at least 75 festivals lined up for 2018 in the UK alone. The festivals are a celebration of the natural lifestyle whilst also introducing its participants to new vegan restaurants and foods that they may not have tried before. Restaurants are creating pop ups at these events to promote themselves to the vegan following and gain some new supporters.

So, with the popularity of no-meat lifestyles on the rise, it is clear that restaurants have an opportunity to increase their offerings and enable themselves to appeal to a wider clientele. If 25% of evening meals being eaten are meat free, would restaurants do well to make 25% of their offerings meat free? It might even serve as a cost effective alternative whilst not compromising on quality.

Wayne Redge is marketing assistant, Smart Hospitality Supplies

Quotas for female managers?

On International Women’s Day (8 March), Serena von der Heyde FIH MI makes the case for affirmative action to achieve greater diversity in the boardrooms of the hospitality industry19 Serena von der Hyde FIH

Like a lot of people, I don’t like quotas – I don’t think they are fair – but recently I have started to think again. Nearly 60% of the UK workforce in our industry are women yet only just over 20% of our managers are women, and these figures have been almost static for more than 20 years.  We know that businesses with more women leaders are more successful and more profitable, so why aren’t companies rushing to develop and promote them?  The benefits of diversity are proven, but still progress in achieving diversity is glacially slow.

We want a fair workplace for our young women and men, and optimum performance for our businesses, and yet a compelling business case has failed to bring about change; then should we consider quotas?

Quotas have been shown to get results, and fast.  They have been used across Europe to promote women in politics and business since Norway started in 2003.  Many countries including Iceland, France, Spain and now Germany have followed suit, and the numbers of board-level women have risen in those countries. What’s more, there is some evidence that where quotas have been in use for some time, diversity becomes self-fulfilling. The culture and infrastructure has changed to the extent that women and men are coming through to leadership levels in equal numbers. In Belgium, the quota system states that both sexes must be represented for applications for roles in politics, and recently it is male applicants that have been hard to recruit. For quotas to work, they need to come with strict repercussions. In France, businesses were threatened with de-regulation if they failed to meet quotas. In Spain there were no sanctions for not meeting quotas, and as a result Spain has been far less successful. Quotas without teeth are ineffective.

One of the main arguments against quotas is that they prevent promotion on merit. We want the best leaders for our businesses regardless of gender. But I challenge the notion that our meritocracy is working. If it was, wouldn’t we already have more women leaders? The truth is that our societal and cultural background is failing to provide a level playing field for our aspiring women leaders.  More women than men are graduating from our universities, and, on average, women have better grade degrees, but still we overlook their talents.  It is becoming clear that we have to learn diversity – it takes time for a culture to genuinely believe in the value of diversity, and then to implement processes that nurture it.

There is a difference between quotas and targets, in terms of delivering change; quotas enforce where targets incentivise. Personally, I believe that people learn better and change more when they can set their own agenda. Every business will have different issues affecting diversity, and real change is most effective when a strategy is developed specifically by the team for that business.  When regulations are imposed, teams spend half their efforts working on strategies to sidestep the new rules, and quotas can result in alienating the team.

For my own business, where we need to develop male leaders to ensure diversity, I will be:

  • Ensuring full and ongoing commitment to diversity from the leadership
  • Leading the development of our diversity strategy and targets
  • Publishing gender pay differences, and recording gender balance across the team and our leadership team

This type of approach gives businesses time to develop a pipeline of talented women (or in our case men), so that they can make quality appointments and showcase successful women within the business. I believe that hospitality businesses should be recording gender balance, monitoring gender pay gaps and publishing their own targets and strategy for diversity.  However, if these initiatives prove inadequate, then it is time to consider resorting to the faster, but blunter tool of quotas.

Serena von der Heyde FIH MI is the owner of The Georgian House Hotel, London

Sign up to the Diversity in Hospitality, Travel and Leisure Charter here.

Single-use plastic-free hotel launches in Bangkok


With over 8 million tonnes of plastic thrown away each year and and the existence of the Great Pacific garbage patch, the world is waking up to the dangers of plastic waste.

Whilst supermarkets plan for plastic free aisles and coffee brands ditch the cup lids, Akaryn Hotel Group plan to become a single-use plastic free hotel group by 2020. The newest opening, akyra TAS Sukhumvit Bangkok, launching May 2018, is set to lead the charge in this initiative.

Effort has been made to source glass bottle containers and there are is no single-use plastic used in the bars. Stainless steel water bottles, which can be refilled anytime during their stay, are handed to guests on arrival. Self-service drinkable water will be conveniently located on every floor. Guests will notice that in the bathroom, toiletry products are presented in locally manufactured celadon containers filled with essential oils-based products. Bio-degradable bin bags are used in room and shopping bags can be borrowed from the wardrobes to encourage guests to refuse plastic bags when out shopping in Bangkok.

akyra_sukhumvit_BSC02886 web res


Why is the casual dining sector in trouble?

Byron is one of a number of casual dining chains that are shrinking their estates

Five years ago, the casual dining sector was booming. Private equity houses were investing large amounts of money into new chains of restaurants which quickly expanded their outlets, for example Byron, the burger chain, was bought for £100m.

Today, the sector is, to say the least, struggling. EAT is the latest brand to announce closures. Byron is going through a restructuring, Jamie’s Italian has entered into a company voluntary arrangement, and Strada is implementing a closure programme.

What has happened to bring about this sudden reversal of fortunes? Roger Gregory, partner at Pitmans Law, has the answers. Read on

Roger Gregory
Partner, Pitmans
D +44 (0)207 634 4634
M +44 (0)774 760 3864
E rgregory@pitmans.com

Pitmans Law is a Business Partner of the Institute of Hospitality.