North Derbyshire pub and restaurant owner warns post Covid is "even tougher" for hospitality industry struggling to recruit staff

A North Derbyshire pub and restaurant owner has spelt out the issues facing the hospitality industry following the Covid-19 crisis including recruiting staff and retaining them.

Tuesday, 17th August 2021, 12:54 pm

Chris Mapp who runs The Tickled Trout in Barlow has warned it is now “even tougher” for the pub and restaurant sector despite self-isolation rules easing yesterday and social distancing no longer being mandatory as of last month.

He said he is genuinely concerned about his family-owned village pub, as the hospitality industry as a whole is “struggling to recover” post lockdown and facing a “more uncertain future than ever before”.

The publican’s team prepared almost 4,000 ready meals for key workers in the NHS during the crisis and kept morale among staff up through virtual wine tastings and group text messages.

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Chris Mapp owner of The Tickled Trout in Barlow.

Chris said: “It was tough from a business perspective as there was fear and uncertainty to how we could manage financially but with the furlough scheme, grants and the ability to do takeaways we survived…Relief!”

While the pub and restaurant owner “counted down the days to reopen” as a “work family again” he added he soon realised that it was not business as usual, with staff recruitment and retention “harder than ever” alongside escalating costs.

He added: “In my view there is no going back to previous working terms and conditions; staff have moved away from our industry during lockdown or are not prepared to come back working the long hours for the low pay we have put up for many years.”

The publican who has previously worked 90 to 100 hour weeks, with early starts and late finishes missing out on family and social events, believes the pandemic has caused a change in culture with workers striving for a better work life balance.

The restaurant owner has warned that post Covid-19 is "even tougher" for the hospitality industry with difficulties recruiting staff making it "even harder" than before.

While Chris supports the move, he’s concerned how restricted opening hours would work for The Tickled Trout.

He plans to run a four day rota for staff working 48 hours over four days, alongside overtime and is currently advertising to fill positions but warns independent pubs need solidarity and commitment from ‘key players’ in the industry to bridge the cultural shift.

The publican continued: “Raising awareness will be key to why these changes need to be put in place – yes a pint may cost a few pence more for your local to survive.

"Not because bigger profits are being made but because staff are being paid fairly for the work they do.

“There is a huge domino effect rippling through the UK with restaurants, cafes and pubs not being able to operate fully, this cascades to the supplier and their workforce which in turn affects the farmers and their staff.

“We really need people to join our beloved industry, it can be an excellent career, we need the next generation to “choose hospitality”.”

Chris, who is a patron of a national charity working to generate interest in hospitality at a school and youth level, is worried that soon there will only be old men and women in kitchens.

He added: “I am hugely proud of the food we serve in the UK and at my pub and the customer service we give and I welcome a collective conversation to how we can all survive in the future.”

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