Members’ News

February 2021

Sodexo launches 2021 Social Impact Pledge #

Sodexo UK & Ireland has today publicly stated its commitment to a series of pledges forming its ethical manifesto for leading the way to improve quality of life for society and our planet. These pledges include gifting  up to 25% of its apprentice levy to SME suppliers, enabling them to create 100 new apprenticeships; cutting food waste by 50% across all its sites by 2030; and ensuring 40% of the business’ spend is with SME and VCSE suppliers – above the Government’s own target of £1 in every £3. 

This launch represents the fourth iteration of Sodexo’s Social Impact Pledge. First published in 2015, the business has faithfully reported on its progress against the pledges each year, demonstrating with evidence and examples the positive impact it is creating. This year, the pledges are focused on four social impact pathways: our People, our Planet, our Places, and our Partners. 

The business is taking additional steps to provide its People with support, as well as helping those within its communities that need it most to secure suitable employment that could kickstart their career, help them retrain or take the first steps to long-term rehabilitation. 

Sodexo’s responsibility to protect the Planet remains, as it has always been, at the forefront of its business strategy. It has committed to reducing its carbon footprint by 34% by 2025, in line with the Paris Agreement; moving to 100% reusable, recyclable or compostable packaging by 2025; and to cut food waste by 50% across all its sites by 2030.

As a major employer in many communities across the UK & Ireland, Sodexo has committed to supporting the ‘levelling up’ agenda by helping communities and the Places in which it operates to overcome the social and cultural challenges that drive economic disparity.

Sodexo has continued to commit to providing targeted and tangible support for its Partners, particularly Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) and Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprises (VCSEs). This support includes skills-based mentoring and coaching, pro bono technical and professional support and 30-day payment terms.

Each social impact pathway fully aligns to the United Nations' 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and Sodexo’s strategic sustainability roadmap, Better Tomorrow 2025; providing a clear measurement framework for capturing and reporting on the company’s social impact. 

Sean Haley, Sodexo Regional Chair, UK & Ireland said: “It has never been more important than it is right now to operate with purpose and responsibility. Last year, despite the unprecedented circumstances, we fulfilled our commitments laid out in our 2019 ethical manifesto, meeting and even exceeding the ambitious targets we had set ourselves.  You are, however, only as good as your last performance, so our challenge now is to continue to do even better. Covid-19 has touched every aspect of our work and personal lives, so this year our pledges reflect the impact the pandemic has had, and directly contributes to improving the communities we work within..” 

In December 2020 Sodexo published its 2019-20 Social Impact Report outlining progress made on its commitments, these included:

Exceeding its target on recruiting ex-offenders into the business, with 67 new recruits  
Five years ahead of schedule, achieving its pledge on supporting SMEs with 44% of total spend going to SME suppliers;
Surpassing its projection for creating new apprenticeship opportunities by over 250, with more than 1,100 apprentices on plan. 

You can read more about Sodexo’s social impact pledge here.

Elior UK appoints Michal Seal as Marketing & Corporate Communications Director #

Michal Seal joins Elior UK from SSP Group where she was UK & Ireland Commercial Director, responsible for driving commercial value including leveraging technology, developing strategic partnerships and bringing new products to market.  

She is a member of the Elior UK Board and will be responsible for leading the marketing and communications function.   

Catherine Roe, Chief Executive Elior UK, says, 

As we enter a new era for hospitality, we are working hard to drive transformation and develop products and services that are attractive to our both our existing and potential clients and customers. Michal’s commercial insight and experience makes her an invaluable addition to the Elior UK Board.  

With the changing nature of work and ‘new normal’ developing it is vital that we continue to communicate with our clients, customers, colleagues and wider stakeholders so they understand the steps we are taking to support them. Michal will have a crucial role to play in leading this activity.”  

Michal added, “I am thrilled to be joining such a people-centric organisation and looking forward to building on the excellent  food credentials within the business as it renews its focus on  innovation.  There is  huge scope to bring  my commercial experience, particularly around leveraging technology in the industry to support Elior in future proofing the business as consumer behaviour evolves.” 

Compass Group UK and Ireland Takes Home Employer of the Year Accolade at Commitment to Training Awards #

Compass Group UK and Ireland has been recognised as ‘Hospitality Employer of the Year’ at The Trafford College Group’s virtual Apprenticeship of the Year Awards 2021. The foodservice giant’s win was down to its outstanding commitment to training and development.

Compass has been collaborating with The Trafford College Group in Manchester for the last two years, working together to deliver industry-leading culinary and hospitality apprenticeships.

Lola Docherty, Apprentice Business Development Manager – Hospitality, Hair and Beauty at Trafford College Group said: “The College Group’s partnership with Compass Group UK and Ireland has worked exceptionally well, with fantastic levels of training, mentoring and support provided for apprentices. The apprenticeship programme is flexible and responds well to Compass’s requirements, whilst meeting the needs of the business. Apprentices with Compass are fully supported with an extensive training plan and excellent opportunities to enter competitions internally as well as externally, plus great opportunities for progression.”

Jonathan Foot, Head of Apprenticeships and Early Careers at Compass Group UK and Ireland commented: “Compass Group UK and Ireland winning an Employer of the Year Award is recognition of the fabulous work we do each day to support our apprentices and help change their lives with the support of our great partners like Trafford College.

“This award means so much more coming during a year that the whole industry has faced such challenging times. We are proud to have continued to support hundreds of apprentices throughout the pandemic to continue to progress and achieve their apprenticeship qualification

Judges announced for the heats of the NESTLÉ PROFESSIONAL 2021 TOQUE D’OR competition #

Nestlé Professional Toque d’Or has announced two judges for the heats of the 2021competition: MasterChef winner Louisa Ellis and educator and drinks expert, AlisonTaffs. Both judges will lend their expertise to a cohort of up to 320 youngstersthroughout the heats when the competition kicks off in March.

Having started in Barnfield College in Luton, Louisa has worked for some the
country’s top restaurants including Adams in Birmingham and Sat Bains. She’s
appeared twice on MasterChef: The Professionals, the first time she was in the final and the second time in 2020 she won. Alison Taffs has been a judge at Toque d’Or since 2017 and brings with her over 20 years of experience in hospitality. She has a deep passion for both hospitality and drinks education, encouraging professionals to grow their drinks repertoire.

Louisa Ellis says, "I'm very excited to be judging this year's Nestle Toque d'Or. I
strongly believe this competition is vital for the future of our industry. Just competing in this competition will allow the students to step out of their comfort zone and develop further on skills and flair. I wish that I had this opportunity when I wasyo unger and I'm humbled to now get the opportunity to be a part of it

Alison Taffs says, “I am delighted to be Head Judge for the 2021 Front Of House
Toque d’Or competition. The urgency of the industry needing to develop and
encourage newcomers and train now for the future after the pandemic, makes Toque d’Or feel more relevant than ever

Katya Simmons, managing director of Nestlé Professional UK&I, says: “We’re thrilled to announce the first two judges in our competition line-up. Louisa’s determination and passion for creating new flavour combinations, as well as her experience working amongst some of the great in the industry makes her the ideal chef judge for the heats.”

“On a mission to help people to be more confident in their own hospitality mindset,Alison’s knowledge, excitement and continued passion for the hospitality industry issecond to none so we couldn’t be more thrilled to welcome her back to the judging panel in 2021

This year the competition is more inclusive than ever, open to students, apprentices and wider aspiring professionals including commis chefs, waiters and equivalent.

Due to the continued lockdown, registrations will now officially open on 26 February and close on 16 March. As their entry task, entrants will be sent links to reading material on sustainability and nutrition and they will need to undertake a virtual assessment in the form of multiple-choice questions on 18 March from 8am until 23:59. Competitors will also need to complete a 1-minute selfie style video explaining why they are passionate about hospitality and why they should be in 2021 Toque d’Or.

If you’d like to register your interest, please click here. You will receive an email
when the official enrolment begins on 26 February.

For more information, please click here.

FEA launches Industry Insight with ‘Grass root granularity of detail’ #

Database can become bedrock of successful sales and marketing strategies.
What if there was a database showing what type of commercial equipment was in use in which sectors of the foodservice market?  That was based on live, constantly updated information?  That could drill down to individual sites, to show what equipment they had.That could tell you if the site was open or closed, due to the pandemic?  Now FEA has launched Industry Insight, a database that gives exactly that type of granular data – as well as an overview of the market as a whole, and information on all points in between.  

Industry Insight is the result of collaboration between FEA, its members, equipment suppliers and consultants, and foodservice database specialist Caterlyst.  In development for two years, its aim is to create what FEA chair Steve Hobbs describes as “An industry first: a genuinely unique set of data that offers a deep understanding of the installed base of foodservice equipment in the UK.”    He adds, “There is nothing like this on the market, the grass root granularity of details is incredible.”  

During the launch event on February 17, Nichola Gallagher of Caterlyst gave a tour of the database, showing how users could drill down from the macro to the micro.  The database is supplied in modules covering specific product areas – the first three to launch being cooking and warming products, warewashers and refrigeration.  Each module gives an overview, with the total number of outlets and appliances in the market, then users can drill down by sector or by product type.  For example, they might look at passthrough dishwashers in small, medium or large pubs.  They can also look at the twenty largest pub groups, and split the outlets by region.  Or they might look at the schools market, in similar detail.  There are links on the database to individual sites, so that the user can look them up in greater depth.  

Gallagher explained that the individual site data is refreshed every week, with equipment numbers reviewed quarterly.  Each quarter subscribers receive an executive summary report, highlighting trends and changes and giving a top line commentary.  

Simon Frost, chair of the FEA Statistics Committee, led the project since its conception.  “By detailing the product penetration by sector, the database shows users where the gaps and opportunities are, allowing them to optimise their marketing and sales efforts, based on live data.  There is so much potential here – for example, the regional breakdown can help direct a sales force’s efforts.  I believe it will become the bedrock of many companies’ sales, marketing and new product development strategies.”  

During the Q&A at the end of the launch event facilitator Keith Warren, CE of FEA, was asked who had decided what data was required and how to split it.  “That work was carried out initially in the FEA’s Product Group Forums – refrigeration, warewashing and so on.  Each Forum’s members come from specialist companies and are all experts in the relevant field.  Their work was then verified by independent consultants, Julie Barker and Steve Loughton, before the project was linked to the site-relevant data by Caterlyst.  We’re as sure as we can be that no stone has been left unturned.”   

The cost of Industry Insight is £875 per module per year, for FEA members, although there is a special ‘3 for 2’ launch offer, until March 17 2021, whereby members can get all three modules for £1750.  On top of that is a cost of £150 per year per user licence.  For non FEA members, the cost of the three modules is £5,000 plus £150 per licence.  

The Foodservice Equipment Association (FEA) is the independent, authoritative voice of the foodservice equipment industry, representing nearly 200 companies who supply, service and maintain all types of commercial catering equipment - from utensils to full kitchen schemes.  For more information on FEA visit

What's Going to Stick? TWC launches new report that looks at consumer behaviour #

It will come as no surprise to readers that ‘shopper behaviour’ has changed!  But as we come out of lockdown – the big questions will be... what’s the ‘stickability’ of these changes, and what’s the likely impact on the wholesale, and route to market channel?

A new report, launched today by leading data and digital experts, TWC, in the build up to the launch of its new tracker, TWC Trends, took note of habits formed by over 550 consumers and looks at how they believe their new shopping behaviours will endure after the pandemic subsides.

CEO Tanya Pepin highlighted some key findings from the Report.  Notably that the convenience sector’s share of grocery sales has fallen from 28.3% (in March 2020) to 22.7% (end January 2021).  And whilst 23% of consumers say they ARE top-up shopping more during the current lockdown, 30% are shopping less, meaning there is a net reduction in top up missions.  Does this signal a slow-down to the growth enjoyed in the last year across the community c-stores?

According to Tanya, whilst 76% of us top-up shop, conversely 24% of consumers do not!  They buy ALL the things they need in one big shop at the supermarket.  She says:

We asked consumers that if they needed to top-up shop today, where would you go.  And, 37% said they would go to the supermarket with a further 31% saying they would turn to multiple convenience and 16% to a symbol store.  Only 7% said they would head to their local independent convenience store, and there is a concern that as we pull out of lockdown later this year, that there may be a slow-down in the growth of these much-loved local community stores, which have played a vital role during the pandemic in serving their local customers.

Let’s also dispel the myth that behavioural change has been driven simply by the increase in homeworking.  This is not the case.  According to the ONS only 34% of the UK workforce is currently home-working with 5% of workers falling out of work since March 2020, and 16% of the workforce was on furlough in late November.   That still leaves half the workforce going to work at their business premises.

“Our responders indicated that their eating habits have certainly changed, but that they also expect these to change again, post lockdown.  Right now, 48% of consumers are now making lunch at home, 43% of households are now cooking meals from scratch, and 39% are snacking through the day more!  26% of consumers are doing more grocery shopping on line and 6% of consumers have enjoyed using a meal ‘kit’ in the last few months.   However, a lesser-known fact is that 13% have used Amazon Prime, which has quietly gone about its business gaining ground during the Pandemic

Post Covid, it is clear that once the working day ‘normalizes’, consumers want convenience eating and snacking again which bodes well for the local C-stores.  61% say they will reduce (or stop) making lunch at home.   44% will cut back on buying bigger bags of crisps/snacks and 23% of consumers plan to start buying more takeaways.

TWC’s data showed that 68% of people want to reduce or end working from home but only 14% want to return to ‘the office’ as they knew it!  62% want to reduce or end work meetings on Zoom/MS Teams and people are seeking a new work experience rather than the one they had before.  They want to get out of the house and they want to meet face-to-face and not on Zoom or Teams.

Tanya highlighted element that could be useful to wholesalers to understand how they can support their retailers and stay ahead of consumer trends:

A few simple tips could include supporting retailers to engage with customers via newsletters, tailored offers, loyalty and membership schemes.   Plus, encouraging convenience retailers to fight to win share of the top-up shop mission – especially independent retailers.  We would urge wholesalers, (if not already), to look for advice on data strategies to fuel loyalty – remember data is the oil that turns your digital engine!

“We would also suggest that teams look to ‘re-imagine’ the workplace fit for 2021 and beyond and turn consumer sympathy for our channel’s economic plight, into tangible support

TWC is the industry’s leading data and digital expert – it has just announced the launch of TWC Trends, its new division which will track change and trends twice a year partnering the industry to enlighten, illuminate, and inform on issues that remain central to wholesaling and the supply chain.

For further details see here

Covid + Brexit = a perfect storm creating foodservice equipment delays, warns FEA #

Get your order in quick if you don’t want to be in a long queue 

The combination of Covid-19 and Brexit is already causing delays in the supply of foodservice equipment, and the situation is likely to get worse once lockdown starts being eased.  That’s the warning from FEA, the association that represents nearly 200 equipment supply, service and installation companies.  

Covid-19 has limited the production capacity of manufacturers both in the UK and overseas,” says Steve Hobbs, chair of FEA.  “Plus, there has been little stock holding going on.  When the hospitality industry starts picking up, equipment suppliers won’t be able to respond instantaneously to a rapid increase in demand – there’s no magic tap they can turn on.  Customers are going to have to wait.” 

The problems will be exacerbated by the changes in April that will mean import controls come into stricter force in the UK, as part of the Brexit deal.  At the moment, there are no controls on the UK side of the border; this was part of the government’s ‘soft landing’ approach.  From April things harden up – for example, import paperwork will need to be 100% correct, otherwise there will be hold ups and delays getting product into the UK.  

The pandemic and Brexit are creating a perfect storm in terms of foodservice equipment supply,” says Hobbs.  “For any operator looking to buy equipment the solution is clear: get your order in quick if you want to avoid potentially extensive delays.”  

The Foodservice Equipment Association (FEA) is the independent, authoritative voice of the foodservice equipment industry, representing nearly 200 companies who supply, service and maintain all types of commercial catering equipment - from utensils to full kitchen schemes.  For more information on FEA visit

NESCAFÉ gives customers chance to win a year's salary #

The UK’s favourite coffee brand, NESCAFÉ, has launched a campaign to help boost the spirit of the nation by offering one lucky coffee lover the chance to win £/€30,000 -that’s £/€2,500 paid into your bank account every month for a whole year.

As well as the grand prize, there is also the opportunity to win £100 every day from now until 13 April.

Mariana Csányi, channel activation manager, Nestlé Professional UK & Ireland says: “The past year has been incredibly difficult for so many industries but the care sector in particular has faced enormous challenges.

We would like say thank you to everyone in the industry that has gone over and above to deliver incredible care to the nation. Both the grand prize and daily £100 bonuses can be claimed by the individual or used to spread some cheer and treat other colleagues, residents or patients.”

For a chance to win, simply purchase any participating products from the NESCAFÉ Professional range, visit
and upload your proof of purchase to enter.

Sodexo initiatives recognised at 2021 National Social Value Conference #

Sodexo has received two highly commended accolades at the 2021 National Social Value Awards in recognition of its efforts to look after its workforce and embedding social value in the management of its contracts. 

The results of the awards were announced at the two-day National Social Value Conference which also saw Sodexo’s Chairwoman of the Board of Directors, Sophie Bellon, open the second day with a keynote speech focusing on the need for a collective ambition to make a lasting positive impact within our communities.  

The Social Value Awards look to recognise organisations which demonstrate innovation, leadership and best practice. 

Sodexo’s healthcare segment was recognised in the Social Value through Decent Work: Project Award, a category focusing on the achievements of organisations that demonstrate care for its people. Sodexo recognises the vital importance of supporting mental health and wellbeing in the workplace. 

In June 2020 Sodexo introduced a face-to-face counselling service to help its frontline key workers predominantly based at acute hospitals to deal with the pressures of working through the Covid-19 pandemic. The service, initially introduced as a three-month trial, has to date delivered over 800 sessions and will continue until April 2021.  

Sodexo was also highly commended in the Embedding Social Value in Contract Management: Project Award for its support of residents in student accommodation at Northumbria University during the Covid-19 pandemic, this includes:

*  Free of charge 24/7 digital concierge service to residents at Sodexo-managed student accommodation
*  Option for food and hydration food parcels to be delivered if required to self-isolate, available to the University’s entire student population
*  Christmas hamper to provide food for four days over the festive period when new restrictions stopped students returning home.  Hamper included traditional Christmas meal with all the trimmings, Christmas crackers, board games and a Christmas card. 

Sean Haley, regional Chair, Sodexo UK & Ireland said: “Congratulations to both teams and thank you for doing all that you do. Both these initiatives reflect the positive impact our teams are having on the communities in which we operate, every day

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought to the fore the importance of doing business with purpose and responsibility and I am proud of all of our teams who continue to do all they can to ensure we are providing social value in all we do. As I said at the conference, it is no longer a discussion, no longer a debate, it's non-negotiable - social value must be embedded into everything we do.” 

In her speech Mme Bellon noted that companies across the globe are expected to show they are making a contribution beyond the scope of their activity and that there is a need to work together to face the challenges of inequality, food security and climate change. 

Mme Bellon said “The Covid-19 crisis is a unique opportunity to find and implement a new social balance in order to “recover, rebuild, renew”. And the partnership between public, private and third-sector actors is perhaps the most powerful lever.  We will make tremendous progress on issues that will shape our future, if public and private players seize them together, with ambition, courage and mutual trust.” 

Sean Haley was on the panel of the discussion following Mme Bellon’s keynote, the session focused on “embedding social value into how business does business” on how businesses should engage in order to deliver more social value for communities. Other panellists included Sally Uren OBE, CEO, Forum for the Future; Shuen Chan, Head of ESG, Legal & General Investment Management; and Colin Macpherson, CEO Places and Communities, Engie. 

On the first day of the conference Sodexo’s director of social impact Angela Halliday joined a session with Crown Commercial Service discussing integrating social value in central government procurement. 

The conference, this year titled: ‘Recover, rebuild, renew’, came just a week after Sodexo launched its 2021 Social Impact Pledge a series of commitments forming its ethical manifesto for leading the way to improve quality of life for society and our planet.

Access All Areas Hospitality online event - 9 March 2021 #

After the success of our last online event, Access All Areas Hospitality returns on 9th March for a week of industry expert sessions, product updates, customer panel discussions and industry trends. 

March 9th at 12pmFireside chat and Q&A session with industry experts - Ann Elliot hosts a discussion with the sector's leading industry experts, including Kate Nicholls OBE, from UKHospitality, from the British Bar and Pub Association (BBPA) and Sacha Lord, Greater Emma McClarkin Manchester Night Time Economy adviser. With a roadmap to reopening now released and the budget announcement due 3rd March join our experts to understand the impact on your hospitality business. Reserve your spot here.

March 9th at 2pm: Consumer confidence insights - Access Hospitality MD, Henry Seddon, is joined by Karl Chessell from CGA to share the latest industry insights and gives us an idea of the current landscape and what we can expect when the sector comes out of lockdown. Reserve your spot here.

March 10th at 12pm: Hospitality operator panel - As we reflect on a huge year of change in hospitality, we are joined by customers including Fullers, Eden Hotel Collection and Condor Hotels to discuss how operators have navigated change in 2020 and pivoted to come out stronger, the long-lasting changes to processes and people management, the challenges expected in reopening and getting ready for Natasha's Law.  Reserve your spot here.
Don’t miss the other sessions which include Dr Mat Wood, our Product Director sharing what’s new in Access Hospitality.  There is an interactive session on analytics and business intelligence brought to your by our solutions expert and a marketing masterclass from our very own DesignMyNight head of content.

To view the full agenda and reserve your place visit our Access All Areas registration site today. 

Springboard announces Awards for Excellence shortlist #

Springboard UK has announced the shortlist for its Awards for Excellence, which will reward outstanding achievements in hospitality at a not-to-be-missed virtual ceremony on 18 March. 
Over 40 businesses have made the shortlist in 17 categories - recognising everything from employee health & wellbeing and staff communication, to the best dine at home experience and most innovative alcohol strategy.  
New for 2021, the awards also include categories to showcase businesses and employees who have gone above and beyond, demonstrating the ability to quickly adapt and implement new, successful initiatives in order to support their employees, communities and NHS during the pandemic.  
Springboard CEO, Chris Gamm, says: “We’ve received a record number of entries despite the pandemic, demonstrating that our hospitality industry has gone above and beyond in 2020 to support their communities and employees, adapt their business models and succeed despite the odds. 
“We’ve got a fitting ceremony planned to celebrate the shortlist and reveal the winners. As well as announcing who takes the top spot in each category, we’ll have a number of celebrity guest appearances throughout the night including Andi Oliver, Michele Roux Jr and Clare Smyth
The awards, hosted by British comedian and television presenter, Paul Sinha, best known as one of the six Chasers on the ITV game show The Chase, is sponsored by Harri, will take place from 6:30-7:30pm on 18 March. They’re free to attend and open to all. Sign in from 6pm to network online with other guests. Register here: 

10 Takeaways from CGA's Business Leaders' Survey #

CGA’s annual Business Leaders’ Survey sets the tone for prospects and trends in hospitality, and CGA’s experts unveiled 2021’s key findings at a special webinar. Here are ten top messages from the exclusive poll of our industry’s most influential and knowledgeable players.

1 Optimism is cautiously rising…

After nearly 12 months of very fragile business confidence, signs of an end to lockdowns have lifted leaders’ optimism. Half (49%) are now confident about prospects for the sector over the next 12 months—more than triple the number who felt the same way in November (18%). The number feeling confident about their own businesses has doubled, from 35% to 54%.

2 … But many challenges remain

One in ten (10%) leaders think their business will not survive if no additional support is announced in the Chancellor’s Budget next Wednesday (3 March)—and only a third (37%) predict they will return to profit this year without fresh help. “We’ve seen a reasonable uptick in confidence… but we’re very much still at a cliff edge,” said Karl Chessell, CGA’s business unit director – hospitality operators and food, EMEA.

3 More help is needed on rates and VAT

Business leaders’ clear priorities for government are extensions to a couple of key packages: the pause on business rates and cut in VAT. Prolonging these until March 2022 would help two thirds (66%) of businesses to return to profitability this year, the survey suggests. Extending the furloughing scheme, increasing grants and cutting VAT and duty on alcoholic drinks would all stimulate trade too.

There’s a real need for the government to step up and give support,” said Karl Chessell.

4 We can expect openings as well as closures

CGA’s Market Recovery Monitor tracked nearly 6,000 closures of licensed premises in 2020, and many more can be expected before hospitality reopens. But the number of leaders planning to keep some sites shut after lockdown has dropped from 36% in November to 31% in CGA’s latest survey. Three in five (58%) leaders now anticipate opening new sites in 2021—more than double the number in the third quarter of 2020 (26%)—and half (49%) expect new entrants to match or exceed levels seen in 2019. They indicate a revival in both growth and entrepreneurialism as 2021 goes on. “After a lean year we’ll hopefully see new investment,” said Karl Chessell.

5 Consumers are excited but cautious

CGA’s consumer research shows a tension between excitement at returning to hospitality after so long away, but lingering anxiety about safety. This is reflected in the Business Leaders’ Survey, with 98% of respondents agreeing pent-up demand will help their businesses in the next 12 months, but nearly three quarters (71%) expecting fragile confidence to hold back sales. CGA’s research and insight director Charlie Mitchell said trends after last year’s spring lockdown, which saw well over half of consumers return to venues within a month of reopening should provide encouragement. “The really positive thing is that when consumers visited they felt confident enough to go again. There’s a job to be done to build confidence and overcome the nervousness that’s apparent.”

6 Spending may polarise

CGA’s Business Leaders’ Survey and consumer research both point to potential polarisation in the market after lockdown. Just over half (56%) of leaders expect increased demand for high-end offerings will have a positive impact on their business—but nearly as many (49%) think the same about value offerings.

There will be a set of consumers who have managed to save and will be looking forward to coming back out and treating themselves… but on the other hand there will be a lot who have been impacted negatively financially. For operators, the key takeout is knowing your audience and tailoring your offer accordingly.”

7 Staff engagement is still crucial

With so many job losses lately, access to labour will not be as challenging as it was before the pandemic. But with only 14% of leaders not anticipating recruiting any new staff in 2021, competition for talent could increase as the market recovers, which will make good staff engagement as vital as ever. CGA’s Hospitality Professionals research shows a clear link between engagement and the satisfaction of staff, so investing in it now could avoid labour shortages in the future.

8 Technology is now at the core of hospitality

The pandemic has dramatically accelerated hospitality’s adoption of technology, and 95% of leaders think it will be important in their operations after lockdown. The Business Leaders’ Survey shows businesses have grown much more confident with digital solutions over the last year, with frustrations around integration and data overload down.

2020 was a year of rapid adoption—a lot of it driven by necessity,” said Charlie Mitchell. “It’s really given operators the chance to see where they can make efficiencies,” agreed Max Tucker, director of analytics, EMEA at Fourth at the webinar.

9 Tech can support planning in a volatile market

Given the unpredictability of footfall after lockdown, technology will be particularly crucial in managing staff costs. “Tech has a big part to play in understanding the new trading environment… it’ll be about getting labour scheduling right and not impacting on customer satisfaction because you don’t have enough staff,” said Max Tucker. With many consumers likely to be planning their hospitality visits carefully, smart use of online booking tools will be important too.

10 Hospitality can power the UK’s recovery

CGA’s Business Leaders’ Survey shows widespread confidence that hospitality can boost the economy, create jobs and support communities in the aftermath of damaging lockdowns—which makes not being able to reopen before mid-April disappointing. “The delay is a huge frustration.. the sector has a big role to play in the country’s recovery,” said Karl Chessell.

CGA’s Business Leaders’ Survey is conducted in association with Fourth. It was carried out from 5 to 15 February alongside research for UKHospitality, the British Beer and Pub Association and the British Institute of Innkeeping, with a total of 726 responses.

To watch a full replay of the webinar, click here. For the presentation of survey findings shared at the webinar, download here.

For more information about the Business Leaders’ Survey, including bespoke analysis to help suppliers and operators optimise strategies for recovery in 2021, email