Pub Skills: HR Summit

Fight staff shortages with in-house career development

By Claire Churchard

- Last updated on GMT

Pub careers: realising the dream can happen in a slightly different way
Pub careers: realising the dream can happen in a slightly different way

Related tags Bournemouth

The chief executive and co-founder of the fast-growing Brewhouse & Kitchen brew pub group has said the answer to skills shortages in the pub sector is to develop the careers of your own people.

Brewhouse & Kitchen chief executive Kris Gumbrell said: “It’s never been harder than now to attract people into hospitality. At the end of the day we’ve got a skills problem, you can’t buy it in. We’ve tried that it doesn’t really work. You’ve got to grow from within.”

Speaking to The Morning Advertiser​, Gumbrell raised concerns about job candidates’ enthusiasm for the sector and the way it is viewed, causing people to miss the opportunities available.

Drop in enthusiasm 

He said that 30 years ago, when he was at Bournemouth University, there were around 180 people doing retail and leisure courses.

“I’m still involved with the university, I’m a guest lecturer and a fellow at Bournemouth and I sat in a room with about 40 or 50 people doing a hospitality degree just before Christmas. Half of them were foreign students, predominantly Chinese. So we’re not getting people interested in our industry.”

He urged pub employers to do more and said: “What’s happening now is that the young people are finding us because they go off and do a degree and then hit a brick wall in their expectations.

"They come to us to work to pay mum and dad for their board and keep and then they’re suddenly realising that ‘actually this is quite good fun’ and it has career prospects and good salaries. A good general manager can earn £40,000 to £45,000 with bonuses and we give people share options, so realising the dream can happen in a slightly different way.”

Career plan

Brewhouse & Kitchen has a career development programme to bring people through the ranks by growing their skills and confidence to take on bigger roles as the company grows.

Explaining the thinking behind this strategy, Gumbrell said: “The problem we’ve got is that we’re growing at a rate where we have not been able to build bedrock of people who can progress up to general manager level. We’ve been through a couple of years where when we’ve had a requirement for GMs we have had to go out to the market and deal with recruitment agencies. And, actually, you just want to get away from that because it’s a little bit hit and miss.

“You also need to have people in your business who get what you’re about, not just the technical side of running a brew pub, which is slightly different from an ordinary pub, but who also get the values of the business and us, what we look for and the way that we do things. Our way of doing things is very important.”

He added that the pub group “wants people who come through the system”, so they can be spotted and made “very much our own people”.

Acorns in the ground

Commenting on the company’s talent pipeline, Gumbrell said: “We are finally getting there but we’ve only been going five years. We had one pub five years ago. So our growth has been really really rapid. And I think, for us, now is the time, we knew this point was coming so we’ve been putting the acorns in the ground so to speak, and now the trees are starting to sprout. And we’re starting to see these people come through.”

  • To hear more about career development plans and how they can support pub performance and growth, attend our Pub Skills: HR Summit event on the 27 of February.​ Brewhouse & Kitchen chief executive Kris Gumbrell will be speaking about how the brew pub group developed its career plans and the impact this is having on the rapidly growing business.

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