Brexit is an opportunity for the pub sector

By Michelle Perrett

- Last updated on GMT

Negotiations: Brexit could bring opportunities says BBPA's Brigid Simmonds
Negotiations: Brexit could bring opportunities says BBPA's Brigid Simmonds

Related tags: Business rates revaluation, Minimum wage

There are "potential opportunities" with Brexit but there will need to be negotiations to protect overseas staff, warned Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA). 

She was speaking at the ‘Recruiting and retaining talent in your pub business’ event, run in association with the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR), People 1st​ and the British Institute of Innkeeping (BII).

She argued that the potential opportunities for British businesses existed, especially in the exports category. She also argued that it was important in Brexit negotiations to secure the labour and skills the sector needed.  

In initial findings from a BBPA survey, 27% of its members’ workforce were from overseas, this rose to 40% and more in metropolitan areas, with kitchen staff a particular area of concern. The BBPA said it would be working with the Government to obtain clarity on overseas workers’ rights as Brexit progresses.

She also said that the apprenticeship levy, business rates revaluation and the national minimum wage (NMW) were all cost pressures, which would have an impact on the industry in 2017. 

Simmonds said: “This year will see challenges for our industry, with new cost pressures from the NMW, business rates revaluation and the apprenticeship levy, and it’s important that businesses are prepared.

“While there is uncertainty surrounding Brexit, there are opportunities for businesses, particularly around exports and tourists coming to the UK."

ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “With the publication today of the Government’s Brexit white paper and forthcoming wage and property cost increases, licensed hospitality businesses are looking for some stability and guidance.

“Today’s event is also a fantastic example of joint working across an industry that is vital to the UK’s economy. We are speaking with one voice to address the sector’s challenges; challenges that have too often gone overlooked by the Government.” 

Speaking at the event, People 1st talked about the importance of using apprenticeships to “maximise their levy investment” and increase retention and productivity.

People 1st director of strategic policy Annette Allmark said: “With the levy fast approaching, it is critical that businesses are aware of how it will affect them and how they can maximise their levy investment.”

BII managing director Mike Clist said: “Recruiting the best possible staff members and encouraging them to grow will also enable us to counter the perception that we are a low-skilled sector and show the Government that we are essential to the wider economy.”

Related topics: Training

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