Given that no one can accurately foresee exactly what kind of effect Brexit (a British exit from the EU) would have on the hospitality industry, operators need to 'think seriously' about their ability to pay staff more and retain them, according to Peter Backman, managing director of foodservice analyst Horizons.
He said: "One of the big problems of the pub and restaurant industry is that it doesn't pay well, and never has done, so it relies on cheap labour. If the supply is broken then what's going to happen?
"This is the key implication of Brexit for the foodservice market. You can forget inspiration of cuisine because that's going to happen anyway. Supply of food will be impacted to a degree, investment to a degree, but it's on people where it's going to be felt."
Britain does not have the talent pool to sustain enough chef jobs if migrants were not available to contribute to the recruitment landscape, Craig Allen, co-founder of the Change Group, recently told the Publican’s Morning Advertiser.
Britain retaining its position as a culinary capital of the world relies on restaurant investors and chefs bringing new ideas into the country, he said.
Although Brexit would not definitively lead to immigrants leaving the UK, it would be unwise to assume there would be no issues, Backman said, adding that operators could potentially safeguard themselves by being flexible.
"It seems the logical thing anyway but, in the event of Brexit, you've got to think very seriously about how you can pay people more, retain people more and motivate them more."
Earlier this week, the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers reported that an ongoing survey of its members indicated roughly two thirds favoured staying in the EU – largely due to fears over staffing.
Chief executive Kate Nichols told the Publican's Morning Advertiser the key issue at stake for businesses in the sector was certainty and that uncertainty creating a brake on investment was the last thing the sector needed at this time.