Brexit or Bremain? What the UK hospitality industry thinks about the EU referendum

Brexit or Bremain? What the UK hospitality industry thinks about the EU referendum

  • RPBi survey claims 49% of UK hospitality operators want to leave EU
  • BHA survey claims 74% of hospitality businesses want to remain
  • Tim Martin prints anti-EU Wetherspoon beer mats
  • Al Murray prints anti-Tim Martin beer mats
  • Blog by Stephensons catering equipment suppliers

A survey by RPBi, a hospitality data and news specialist, has found that 49% of UK hospitality operators plan to vote leave in this week’s EU referendum.

According to RPBi, 43% of the surveyed voters will vote to remain in the EU whilst 7% are undecided. 1% did not respond.

The survey of 1,915 hospitality business owners and senior staff revealed that 44% of respondents think leaving the EU will have a negative effect on the UK economy whilst 36% think leaving will have a positive effect.

Keith Britten, Director of RPBi, said, “After analysing the comments and survey results, the one key fact that stands out is that whichever way people decide to vote, the majority believe that a leave vote would have a negative impact on the economy. However, those voting to leave suggest that the negative impact will be short-lived and the benefits will be reaped in the long-term.

In contrast to RPBi, the British Hospitality Association (BHA) have revealed results of their survey from 41 industry leading companies including Café Nero, AccorHotels and Casual Dining Group. The survey results show that 74% of hospitality firms plan to vote in favour of staying in the EU.

With 30% of the current hospitality workforce being made up of migrant workers, respondents to the BHA survey say that a Brexit vote would have a negative impact on staffing.

Elsewhere, JD Wetherspoon founder Tim Martin has taken a pro-active approach to Brexit campaigning. Martin has printed 700,000 beer mats to encourage Wetherspoon’s customers to vote ‘leave’.

On one side of the latest batch of beer mats, Tim Martin has written an open letter to George Osbourne addressing the ‘undemocratic’ nature of the European Union. The reverse side accuses David Cameron and George Osbourne of trying to ‘fool the public using scare stories from cronies or subordinates.’

In response to Tim Martin’s Brexit beer mats, ‘Pub Landlord’ Al Murray ridiculed the Wetherspoon’s boss. Writing in The Guardian, Murray said that Tim Martin has broken ‘one of the all-time golden rules of pubs: never talk about politics.’

Mocking Wetherspoon’s drinkers, Murray writes that, ‘Wetherspoons customers are exactly the sort of people who will be susceptible to this line of argument: they are in these places because they are thrifty, they watch their spending.’

Al Murray even released his own light-hearted beer mats to counter-act those of Tim Martin.

Whichever way the voters decide, Keith Britten, Director of RPBi, says the hospitality industry needs to remain together. Britten says that, ‘It will be important for companies and trade bodies to watch the developments and the potential impact on hospitality and to react as one industry and not, as has too often happened in the past, as individual sectors.’

RPBi EU Referendum Survey:]

Brexit vote: Three quarters of hospitality CEO’s back Remain:

JD Wetherspoon Prints 500,000 More Brexit Mats Attacking George Osbourne:

Move Over Wetherspoons, here’s the Pub Landlord’s Brexit Beer Mats:

Al Murray Beer Mats:



Rather than fall back into the monotonous pattern of comfortable choices, Try January has the potential to inject some excitement into this habitually dreary month.

  • Try January is a positive campaign to encourage customers into pubs and bars during January
  • Spread pictures and messages on Twitter with the hashtag #TryJanuary
  • Blog by Stephensons catering equipment suppliers

Try January is an ever-growing positive movement to boost pub and bar trade during the traditionally quiet January weeks.

Originally founded by cocktail bar chain, Be At One, Try January has developed into an industry wide campaign thanks to the input of the Publican’s Morning Advertiser and writer Jessica Mason.

So how does it work? Pubs and bars are encouraged to promote drinks and food that they wouldn’t normally choose and customers are encouraged to try something different. Those embracing the campaign should then use the #TryJanuary hashtag on Twitter to share pictures of their adventurous selections.

Try January is not necessarily opposed to Dry January, either. Dry January, a campaign in which people give up alcohol after a gluttonous festive season, actually collaborates well with Try January. When in tandem, customers could try non-alcoholic beers, mocktails, soft drinks and any number of food offerings from pub and bar menus.

Jessica Mason wrote in The Morning Advertiser, “It looked like, across outlets, it needn’t be just about cocktails. It could be food and drink. It could be soft drinks for those doing Dry January (although I’m not a fan of abstain campaigns myself), it really could be anything. Plus, it seemed like an injection of positivity for the entire hospitality industry. A way to encourage people to try new things and challenge their taste buds, rather than lean back on old favorites.”

Robinson’s The Airport Pub have embraced the challenge of boosting their January sales with special food offers, return customer vouchers and a Man vs Food challenge.

Paul Goodier, Duty Manager of The Airport Pub, said, “January is normally such a quiet month so it’s a great opportunity to try something different. We have planned a ‘children eat for £1’ deal, a 20% off voucher for returning customers and a Man Vs Food challenge. As you’d expect with a Robinson’s pub, we have a great selection of beverages too so there’s always something new to try.”

Try January is the perfect opportunity to reinvigorate pubs and bars, enthuse customers and inspire people to try something new. We are excited to see what this campaign brings and encourage everyone to get involved. Enjoy #TryJanuary.Watch Justice League vs. Teen Titans (2016) Full Movie Online Streaming Online and Download

Try January #TryJanuary Plastic Disposable Glasses

Stephensons Present Cheshire Life Food & Drink Award

Stephensons Present Cheshire Life Food & Drink Award

  • Stephensons catering equipment suppliers sponsored the Dining Pub of the Year Award
  • Award ceremony at Midland Hotel, Manchester
  • 3 excellent nominations: The Alvanley Arms (Cotebrook), The Dog (Over Peover) and, the winner, The Fox & Hounds (Sproston)
  • Special thanks to Cheshire Life and Lancashire Life for organising another superb eventHenry Cheshire Life Awards

For the 5th consecutive year, Stephensons sponsored the Cheshire Life Food and Drink Awards with our own category, Dining Pub of the Year. Established in 1868, we have a rich history of providing catering equipment to Cheshire’s pubs and our sponsorship of the Dining Pub of the Year is strongly influenced by our heritage and passion for the pub industry.

The shortlist for the Dining Pub of the Year consisted of 3 superb nominations: The Alvanley Arms, The Dog and The Fox & Hounds.

All 3 pubs serve exceptional food and each would have been a worthy winner of the award.

The Alvanley Arms is a characterful 400 year old coaching inn in the heart of the Cheshire countryside. You can always be sure of a warm welcome and excellent food at this Cotebrook-based inn where pub classics are served alongside seafood and grill menus.

The Dog sits in the bosom of Over Peover and provides a friendly haven for locals and visitors alike. With a traditional Sunday roast to put a smile on anyone’s face, The Dog features classic pub food and seasonal specials prepared fresh from their kitchen every day.

Finally, the Dining Pub of the Year Winner, The Fox & Hounds have a strong emphasis on local ingredients. With close attention paid to quality produce, this pub serves locally sourced steak, sustainable seafood from West Coast Fisheries and even ice cream from a nearby manufacturer for an authentic Cheshire experience.

Congratulations to The Fox & Hounds and thank you to Cheshire Life and Lancashire Life for holding another wonderful award ceremony. See you next year!Villeroy-Boch-Affinity Catering Equipment

Manchester to Beijing Direct Flight Set to Boost Economy

Manchester to Beijing Direct Flight Set to Boost Economy

  • Direct flight from Manchester Airport to Beijing set to boost Manchester area and ‘Northern Powerhouse’

  • Visa changes for Chinese tourists expected to generate a further £337 for UK economy; hospitality industry expected to flourish

  • President Xi Jinping in the UK on 4 day state visit

  • President’s visit to Manchester tomorrow includes the Town Hall, Ethiad Stadium and Manchester University before concluding at Manchester Airport

  • Blog by Stephensons catering equipment suppliers

China UK

As Chinese President Xi Jinping prepares to visit Manchester, plans have been unveiled for a direct flight route between Manchester and Beijing.

Xi Jinping is expected to reveal finer details of the new direct flight during his state visit to Manchester tomorrow. Hainan Airlines will operate the route and flights can already be booked on the Hainan Airlines website with the first flight taking place in June 2016.

As well as introducing a direct flight route between Manchester and Beijing, plans have been revealed to encourage more Chinese tourists to visit the UK.

Chinese visitors normally get issued with a 6 month visa at a cost of £85. However, from 2016 tourists will be able to obtain a 2 year visa for the same price which allows for multiple visits. A 10 year visa is also expected to be introduced.

These visa plans are predicted to boost the number of tourists to the UK by 256,000 every year and generate £337m for the UK economy with the hospitality industry expected to flourish.

The number of Chinese tourists visiting London has risen by 112% since 2009, generating £500m annually for the UK economy. The direct flight route into Manchester is sure to encourage tourists to visit other areas of the UK and spread economic wealth.

Chinese investment has already funded £800m worth of development at Manchester Airport and Chancellor George Osbourne announced earlier this year that further ‘Northern Powerhouse’ schemes include business agreements with Hualing Industry and Trade Group, worth over £60m.

Chinese investment in the North West also includes Salford student accommodation company FreshStart Living who have attracted £4m to build accommodation in both Manchester and Liverpool.

Prime Minister David Cameron said, “China is investing more in Britain now than other European countries, the change we will see is obviously the investment into our infrastructure, Chinese companies employing people and creating jobs. But I think it’s also a big win for China as well, having access to a country that is a leading member of the EU, and has so many other contacts and roles in the world.”

Despite obvious economic benefits, a number of parties have expressed concerns over ties between the UK and China, most notably over human rights and energy security.

China has a long history of human rights infringements which includes targeting activists, ethnic minorities and religious groups. Meanwhile, it has been suggested that Chinese investment in power supplies could enable China to shut down UK power stations in the event of a diplomatic row.

However, Prime Minister David Cameron has pledged to confront president Xi Jinping over controversial issues and says, “No topics are off the table.”Churchill Stonecast Catering Equipment Suppliers

Food Safari: Stefan & Nina’s South African Adventure

Food Safari: Stefan & Nina’s South African Adventure

Swiss filmmaker, Stefan Ruegg, and his girlfriend, Nina, created a video to showcase the mouth watering foods and jaw dropping presentation of Cape Town cuisine and have inspired the catering and hospitality industry.Stefan and Nina

In a world where exciting food presentation is ridiculed by the likes of, ‘We Want Plates,’ Swiss couple Stefan and Nina have shown that serving food on wooden boards, slates and platters can reinvigorate the tabletop.

Stefan and Nina travelled to Cape Town to share their passion for filmmaking, travel, food, health and wellbeing. Along the way, they filmed every meal, restaurant and scenic view that Cape Town threw at them.

Their 3 minute video is an uplifting tribute to the beautiful foods of South Africa and inspiring food presentation.

The diversity of food that Stefan and Nina recorded acts as an eye opening exploration into the culinary landscape of Cape Town. Foods include fresh fish courses, colourful salads, decadent desserts and scrumptious sandwiches and they’re all served in different ways.

This bright and uplifting video will surely inspire the catering & hospitality industry to experiment with different foods and exciting presentation. Food is served on everything from wooden boards, slates, plain white plates and even street foods in greaseproof paper. Every meal looks as good as the last to leave the viewer drooling over their keyboard, dreaming of a South African food adventure.

In total, there are 75 food clips shown in Stefan and Nina’s ‘Food safari’ video. This delightful montage is a testament to South African cuisine and its pursuit of exhilarating food presentation.

This video first appeared on Wellness In The City, a South African health, fitness and beauty blog.


The Impact Of The Living Wage On The Hospitality Industry

The Impact Of The Living Wage On The Hospitality Industry

British Finance Minister, George Osborne, announced a large minimum wage increase in his first budget since the Conservative Party won the General Election in May 2015.

With Tim Martin of Wetherspoon’s speaking out against the National Living Wage, how will increased salaries impact the hospitality industry?Living wage impact on hospitality sector- pubs, bars, restaurants, cafes

The introduction of a higher minimum wage is set to come into effect from April 2016 and will see an increase from £6.50 to £7.20 and a steady rise to £9.35 by 2020.

Priti Patel, Employment Minister, said, “The strength of the UK labour market is something we should take great pride in. With the government’s new productivity plan, and introduction of the new living wage, we are ensuring everyone benefits from the economic recovery.”

Martin Couchman, Deputy Chief Executive of the British Hospitality Association said, “Hospitality will be the biggest industry affected by this. A very substantial part of the workforce are paid the higher National Minimum Wage Rate and they are the ones who will be paid the compulsory National Living Wage.”

With approximately 29 pubs a week closing in Britain, pub owners are finding the newly named ‘Living Wage’ difficult to come to terms with.

Most notably, Tim Martin, Founder and Chairman of JD Wetherspoon, has spoken out against the increase. With over 900 pubs, Wetherspoon’s have already agreed to raise their minimum wage by 8% to £7.29.

Tim Martin said, “The recent government announcement regarding the Living Wage adds considerable uncertainty to future financial projections in the pub industry.

“Pubs contribute around 40% of sales as taxes of one kind or another and are important generators of jobs.”

Plastic Disposable Glasses- pubs living wage hospitality

Wetherspoon’s have called on the government to bring VAT sales tax and business rates for pubs into line with supermarkets to reduce the rate of closure and ease the ever increasing financial burden on pubs.

Martin said, “Capricious initiatives by the government, widening the financial disparity between pubs and supermarkets, will threaten the future of many more pubs.

“The average price of a pint in a supermarket is less than £1 and we estimate staff costs to be around 10% or 10 pence. In contrast, a pint in a pub costs around £3 and staff costs are about 25% or 75 pence.

“Increased labour costs therefore affect pubs with far greater force than supermarkets. This disadvantage is compounded by a huge VAT and business rates disparity between pubs and supermarkets.

“We strongly urge the government to harmonise VAT and business rates for pubs and supermarkets and to end the current tax inequalities.”

Pub groups argue that supermarkets are able to subsidise alcohol prices with savings made elsewhere. Pubs have to pay 20% VAT on food sales whilst supermarkets remain largely exempt and use these savings to offer lower alcohol prices.

This economic drawback is displeasing to thousands of pub owners in the UK as pubs have lost around 50% of beer sales since VAT was increased from 8% over 30 years ago.

However, Bridgid Simmonds of the British Beer & Pub Association believes the impact of the National Living Wage may not be as tough as Tim Martin suggests, “There are some very welcome measures for beer and pub businesses, with the cut in corporation tax, reductions in the cost of Employers National Insurance and the rise in the Annual Investment Allowance.

“Some of the measures, such as the Living Wage and reductions in tax credits, will have a knock- on effect on the cost of employment for pubs, so the tax cuts are a welcome and necessary balancing measure.”

Deutsche Bank analyst, Geof Collyer, believes the National Living Wage will affect ‘some significantly more than others.’

He said, “The introduction of the National Living Wage comes at a time when everyone is hoping that sector trading will start to recover from a subdued last 12 months. The Living Wage will now place significant pressure on companies in the hospitality space and could stunt profit growth for a few years.

“According to the Low Pay Commission, the hospitality sector has the highest proportion of jobs paying the National Minimum Wage at 26%. We estimate that for the major quoted UK hospitality groups, labour costs range from 25% to 33% of revenues, with most companies here having circa 40% of their employees on the National Minimum Wage.”

Despite much negativity around the Living Wage, Collyer does point out that higher wages could result in improved staff retention and, subsequently, better productivity.

Wages in the hospitality industry have naturally been climbing in the past year; figures released by the Office For National Statistics reveal that the average worker in the hospitality sector earned £248 per week in May 2015, a 3.6% year-on-year growth.


In Other News: Stephensons Sponsor Blackpool Heritage Tram

Stephensons Catering Equipment Living Wage Hospitality

2015 sees the Blackpool & Fleetwood Tramway reach 130 years of operation and Stephensons are proud to be a part of it by sponsoring Tram 66.

Our sponsorship will go towards preserving the Blackpool Heritage Trams which are synonymous with the seaside resort and offer much enjoyment along the Blackpool coast.

If you’re in Blackpool this summer, keep an eye out for Tram 66, a restored early 1900’s tram run by Blackpool Heritage Tram Tours.