Industry procurement specialist fears budget doesn’t do enough for foodservice sector

One of the industry’s leading procurement providers thinks the latest budget announcements don’t go far enough to help the UK’s struggling hospitality and leisure sector.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Phillip Hammond, presented his budget to parliament on Monday and included proposals for lowering business rates for smaller operations.

Despite this, Regency’s managing director, Alex Demetriou said the budget is not helping larger businesses, in the hospitality sector especially.

Mr Demetriou said: “The hospitality industry is the fourth biggest employer in the UK and makes a significant contribution to the nation’s economy, so it would have been nice if the Government had acknowledged this in the budget, which did not go far enough to support the sector, which continues to face extremely challenging times.”

Mr Demetriou said the budget seemed, on face value, to go some way towards assisting smaller retailers and restaurateurs but offered no help for the larger companies.

In the current landscape, larger corporate businesses on the High Street are suffering just as much as the smaller ones, he said. Mr Demetriou fears that if these businesses continue to fail then so will surrounding businesses.

Mr Demetriou said: “There is no doubt that these anchor tenants are the key to attracting high footfalls in certain High Streets, which support our food and beverage sites across the country, as well as smaller businesses.

“For some pubs and restaurants on High Streets, the disappearance of Debenhams could prove catastrophic.”

He added that while the business rates reduction would undoubtedly be welcomed by smaller operators, the increase of the minimum wage will continue to create challenges.

Businesses are already struggling to employ the same number of staff in the hospitality sector that they used to, resulting in a reduction of staffing levels.

Mr Demetriou said: “It is very subtle in some businesses, and less so in others. If you look at how McDonald’s, for example, has introduced their self-order systems. This is a direct reaction to the increase in minimum wage, and therefore increased business costs.”

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