Despite Brexit, Irish restaurateurs have an optimistic view of 2018 business

Adrian Cummins, RAI

Adrian Cummins, RAI

Irish restaurateurs are optimistic about the state of business in the year ahead, they were told this week at their annual convention in Limerick.

As the Restaurants Association of Ireland held its Annual General Meeting and Conference this week at Adare Manor, the Association revealed the results of their benchmark survey conducted by BDO which examined several aspects of the industry, including the current outlook of restaurateurs, industry staffing issues and the impact of digital technology on the sector. The majority of respondents to the survey were licensed restaurants.

When examining the future of the restaurant industry in Ireland, respondents reported an optimistic view on business. Of those surveyed, 45 per cent of respondents indicated that turnover was up in 2017, relative to the corresponding period in 2016. 48 per cent also reported that they expect their restaurant overall performance to be better still in 2018 than in 2017.

Brexit appears to be giving continued cause for concern with approximately 75 per cent of respondents either mildly or very concerned about its potential impact on their business. Further concerns for restaurateurs were the continuing trend of persistently high insurance premiums, staff shortages in the industry and the incoming new guidelines surrounding restaurants and GDPR. Despite these challenges however, approximately 75 per cent of respondents reported being either confident or very confident about the future outlook of their business.

Those surveyed reported that they have, on average, 19 full-time employees on their staff. 33 per cent of employers indicated that they have increased the number of employees between 2016 and 2017 and 30 per cent plan to increase staffing levels further during 2018 in both front and back of house positions. However, even with these increases, staff shortages and recruitment challenges persist with 82 per cent of respondents indicating that they are finding it difficult to attract and recruit staff to their business. While this challenge is apparent in all areas of the industry, there is a noticeable prevalence of this issue in the area of chef staffing as 84 per cent of respondents reported that chef positions are proving the most difficult position to fill.

With digital technology becoming more prominent in the hospitality industry, of the 80 per cent of restaurateurs who reported to have a business website, 54 per cent have experienced an increase in the volume of traffic to their website over the last 6 months. Of those who have a website, 61 per cent also indicated that bookings can be made through the site and 48 per centindicated that they sell vouchers via their site.

Adrian Cummins, Chief Executive of the Restaurants Association of Ireland said that the Restaurants Association is delighted to see that employers are feeling optimistic about business in 2018 and are planning to invest further in the sector. Almost half surveyed reported that turnover had increased in 2017 and that they believe business will be better still in 2018.

“Chef shortages still prove to be one of the most prominent issues for employers in the industry. However, the Restaurants Association has recently taken steps to mitigate this problem by partnering with recruitment specialists Global Force Resource. So far, over 100 chefs are on their way to member restaurants since we launched the partnership two months ago.”

At the Annual General Meeting and Conference in Adare Manor, Limerick, some of the biggest names in the industry came together to share insights, nurture ideas and to formulate strategies that will help drive business over the next twelve months.

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