Often in times of crisis, new leaders emerge with genuine intent

This week an open letter was issued to Downing Street, standing up for the Industry.
Can it create change?

This week an open letter, signed by close to 70 of the leading names from within the restaurant sector, was presented at Downing Street to argue the case for the urgent need for many roles within Hospitality to be placed on the Skills Shortage list and for Government to take a new look at how it can support the Industry.

Names signed in support include the likes of Sir Rocco Forte, William Sitwell, Richard Caring, Jeremy King, Sally Beck, Jeremy Goring, Stuart Gillies, Nick Jones, Adam Byatt amongst many more.

The letter has, rightly, been well publicised across the media including by the FT, The Caterer and even on the Radio. It is building a momentum and one which does need to be supported and built upon.

It has all been led by Clio Georgiadis, Hospitality Director of Estiatorio Milos in London, which she has lead for the past 6 years since it was founded in the city. She is passionate on this issue and feels heartbroken to watch her team exhausted by the constant pressures of this time.

It is always fascinating that in moments of crisis, new leaders and names do emerge; often because they are driven by genuine and authentic passion than any personal ambition. Clio is one such character as she wants to simply champion much needed change. Clio was a driving force behind the launch of Estiatorio Milos in London, took a number of years to build both the team and business to become a successful business, only to now see it threatened and hurt by a mix of Brexit, Covid and a changing landscape. She is not alone. Many are feeling the pressures but her voice could just become an important one.

The letter does make a powerful argument as it states:

“ The hospitality industry in the UK was developed in the late 60s/1970s when thousands of people from overseas came to our country bringing their culture, their food and their service. Hospitality then became a diverse, rich offering and a true career, a profession to be proud of. Both as front of house staff and as chefs. Hospitality injects millions of pounds into the economy, putting taxes back into the economy as well as making people ‘feel good’. It is rightfully part of the nation’s everyday living. Hospitality is also NOT a low skilled career. There are many roles in the industry both in the kitchen and on the floor which require a high level of training and extensive experience…Many roles within hospitality need to be included on the skills shortage list – this is critical in order to save the industry under Brexit rules… As post covid confidence is restoring, the customer demand is increasing – but the hospitality offering just cannot be of pre-Brexit standards without the necessary trained staff. We urgently need staff. Or the industry will never recover… Allowing the sector to recruit the staff it needs will result in higher turnover, more jobs and the resultant taxes returning to pre-pandemic levels more quickly.”

What is the background story to Clio Georgiadis?

Clio is of Greek heritage but has spent most of her life in the UK attending Benenden School then Oxford University.

After University, she worked with media sales, then head hunting, having a family before approaching the owners of her favourite restaurant in NY, Estiatorio Milos, led by the inspirational chef / owner Costas Spiliadis.

She explained how her story evolved: “Milos is a love story. Costas Spiliadis’s mission has globally (and for over four decades) been to work at changing the misconception Greek cuisine and culture has abroad.

His food is what nature offers, the very best from across the Mediterranean, simply cooked and to perfection. Sophistication without pretension. The purest hospitality.

I had visited Milos for over a decade as a guest and felt strongly that his unique concept belonged in London. It took some persuading and once I had shown Costas and his team around London he quietly told me to start looking for a site. This took two years of exploring then a lot of bidding and negotiating. I then helped him oversee the fit out and hired the whole team. I became quite quickly operational and vertically embarked on a new career.

We (naturally as with all openings) went through many different management teams and staff. After three years of operating and building our guest base, we settled into the most united and dedicated team. It has taken time. Then Brexit hit. We were ok, we were covered and managing our team. Then COVID hit.

Our industry is on it’s knees and this cannot be ignored any longer.

If you would like to offer support to the letter or to learn more, please contact iwona.drozdz@epmagazine.co.uk

OPEN LETTER
27th September, 2021

Dear Prime Minister, Dear Home Secretary,
Dear Chancellor of the Exchequer,
Dear Chairman of the Conservative Party,
Dear Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party,
Dear Parliamentary Under-Secretary and Minister of State,

The hospitality industry in the UK was developed in the late 60s/1970s when thousands of people from overseas came to our country bringing their culture, their food and their service. Hospitality then became a diverse, rich offering and a true career, a profession to be proud of. Both as front of house staff and as chefs.

Hospitality injects millions of pounds into the economy, putting taxes back into the economy as well as making people ‘feel good’. It is rightfully part of the nation’s everyday living.

Hospitality is also NOT a low skilled career. There are many roles in the industry both in the kitchen and on the floor which require a high level of training and extensive experience.

For example:

-Pastry Chef and Sashimi Chef (both lifetime techniques and product training, avg annual salary £35k and £30k respectively)
-Floor Manager (team management skills, leadership, P&L, recruitment, health & safety regulations, food and wine training – course and certificate completion, avg 4 yrs. training, avg annual salary £45k)
-Bartender (product training, service training, spirit knowledge, cost / stock control, avg 12months training, avg annual salary £30k)
-Sommelier (product knowledge, organisation of stock, cost control, leading Sommeliers team, minimum 2 yrs. training, avg annual salary £40k)

Many roles within hospitality need to be included on the skills shortage list – this is critical in order to save the industry under Brexit rules. Such a huge number of individuals have left the industry completely and many restaurants, cafes, bars etc simply cannot stay afloat with such reduced staff. As post covid confidence is restoring, the customer demand is increasing – but the hospitality offering just cannot be of pre-Brexit standards without the necessary trained staff.
We urgently need staff. Or the industry will never recover.

Brexit and the transition plans were done prior to the impact of the COVID pandemic. It could never have been anticipated that we would lose so many of the existing European staff back to their home countries and no provision was therefore made for this.

Pre-pandemic hospitality was the third largest industry in the private sector and was estimated to contribute £133.5bn to national GDP and employed over 3.2m people (about 10% of the workforce) – all figures from UK Hospitality. Allowing the sector to recruit the staff it needs will result in higher turnover, more jobs and the resultant taxes returning to pre-pandemic levels more quickly.

Hospitality is not a low pay sector, and these are skilled jobs paying skilled wages. The problem is not that we cannot compete with other sectors on pay, but that the staff are not there in the numbers required.

The higher quality end of the hospitality market is close to imploding. It relies on well-trained staff as quality cannot be compromised. London’s restaurants are integral to the appeal of the city for tourists and the internationally mobile who choose to live and work here. A crisis in this sector will have ramifications for London as a global city attracting talent from around the world.

We urgently ask The Government to revise current Settlement and Pre-Settlement schemes and the highly skilled migrants lists to address these imbalances.

Signed by:

Franck-Xavier Arnold
Managing Director and Regional Vice President, The Savoy

André Balazs
Chiltern Firehouse, André Balazs Properties

Sophie Bathgate
Founder, Sophie’s Steakhouse, Sophie’s Soho

Sally Beck
Founder, Hoteliers’ Charter
General Manager, Royal Lancaster London

Sinclair Beecham
Co-founder, Pret A Manger

Sandeep Bhalla
General Manager, The Connaught

Nigel Bowen
Head Concierge, The Carlton Tower Jumeirah, Member of Les Clefs d’Or Great Britain

Roy Brett
Owner, Ondine Restaurant

Adam Byatt
Chef Patron, Trinity

Robin Birley
Founder, 5 Herford Street, Oswalds, Birley shops in the City

George Bukhov
Co-Founder, Burger & Lobster Restaurant Group

Joel and Divia Cadbury

Richard Caring
Chairman, Caprice Holdings

Jean-Francois Casanova
CEO Dream International B.V. Dogus

Adriano Cavagnini
Executive Chef, Bulgari Hotel London

Sue Crozier
HR Solutions Hospitality

Juan Santa Cruz
Founder, The Santa Cruz Co

Sir Mick Davis
Chairman, Vision Blue Resources Ltd

Robert Davis
MBE DL, former Deputy Leader of Westminster Council

Peter Davies
Managing Director, WMT Troncmaster Services Ltd

Howard Field
Chairman, Savoy Education Trust

Sebastian Fogg and Laura Montana
Founders, Montana Fogg Restaurant Consultants

Sir Rocco Forte
Chairman, Rocco Forte Hotels

Lydia Forte
Rocco Forte Hotels

Didier Garnier
Owner Founder, Le Colombier

Clio Georgiadis
Estiatorio Milos

Peter Georgiou
Founder, SUPPER LONDON

Jeremy Goring
The Goring Hotel

Bill Granger
Founder, Granger & Co

Stuart Gillies
Chef and former CEO, Gordon Ramsay Group

Skye Gyngell
Chef & Founder, Spring restaurant

Naveen Handa
Cairn Group

Wendy Haowei
Founder, Aquavit

Adam Hyman
Founder, CODE Hospitality

Nick Jones MBE
Soho House UK Ltd, Babington House

Ziad Joumblat
President, Joël Robuchon International Chairman, The Hummingbird Bakery

Aaron Kaupp
Regional Vice President & General Manager of The Carlton Tower Jumeirah

Jeremy King
Co-Founder & CEO, Corbin & King

Thomas Kochs
Managing Director, Corinthia London

Vincent Labeyrie
Founder, Gascon Connection

Kevin Lansdown
General Manager, Caviar Kaspia

Sam Lee
Owner MD, Temper Restaurants, Camm & Hooper events

Andrew Love
Senior Advisor, The RITZ Club

Abel Lusa
Founder, Cambio de Tercio, Tendido Cero, Capote y Toros and Tendido Cuatro

Fay Maschler MBE
Journalist and Restaurant Critic

Francesco Mazzei
Chef Entrepreneur

Michael Millership

Joris Minne
Restaurant critic, Belfast Telegraph

Russell Norman
Chef

Francois O’Neill
Founder, Maison Francois

Yotam Ottolenghi
Chef, Restauranteur

Layo and Zoe Paskin
Founders, The Palomar, The Barbary

Jason Phillips
Director, Wiltons Holdings – Franco’s, Wiltons & Locket’s

Jamie Poulton
Founder, Randall & Aubin

Michael Bonsor
Managing Director, The Rosewood Hotel

Baroness Shackleton of Belgravia LVO Michael Shepherd
General Manager, Hilton Park Lane

Leonid Shutov
Founder, Bob Bob Ricard and Bob Bob Cite

Inderneel Singh
Managing Director, Edwardian Hotels London

William Sitwell
Editor, broadcaster and restaurant critic, The Daily Telegraph

Ed Thaw
Founder, Leroy

Alun Thomas
Senior Partner, Thomas and Thomas Partners LLP

Simon Thomas
Chief Executive, Hippodrome Casino

Simon Thomas
Head Concierge, Lanesborough Hotel
Honorary President, Les clefs d’Or International

Ewan Venters
CEO, ARTFARM GROUP Ltd.

Mark Wakefield
Managing Director, Walton St James

Arjun Waney, OBE
Restaurateur

Knut Wylde
General Manager The Berkeley

Ninai Zarach
Founder, Manicomio and Canto Corvino