We are not quite on the other side of Covid, but we’re getting there, slowly. It’s been a rough ride for everyone and we’ve decided to share some honest truths about the state of play from the ever-optimistic, but equally fatigued, team at Quattro HQ.
The hospitality sector may be opening up but the truth is, there’s still a long way to go. But people need to eat and we need to work – and the wheels of the food production and manufacturing industry need to keep turning, so we push on. And we will triumph over this virus that has taken so much from so many.
So what challenges are we navigating day-to-day? Of course, there are serious financial implications as a result of the hospitality industry – a large swathe of our client base – being crippled for 18 months. But the people problem must be addressed too. Sadly, some staff have been enticed to other sectors and there’s a real shortage of labour at all levels due to a combination of furlough and Brexit. We hope people will feel more secure about accepting roles when they know what post-furlough Britain has in store. Fixing this area is a main focus for us. After all, amazing people are at the heart of everything we do.
We’re hoping that the staffing crisis will be taken seriously by the government and that highly-skilled migrants will be allowed to stay, with some proper understanding of just how skilled the jobs they do are, no matter at what level in the industry. The UK hospitality industry injects millions of pounds into the economy and roles in the kitchen and on the floor require a high level of training and extensive experience. These roles should be included on the skills shortage list under Brexit rules as post-Covid customer demand is increasing, and we need more skilled people.
Further problems are longer lead times, continual price increases and general shortage of raw materials, like cardboard, plastic, oil, spices, dairy and meat. Prices are increasing on an almost weekly basis and we’re hearing about cargo ships turning up at UK ports and leaving as the queues are too long and they have other deliveries to make in other countries. This is adding at least three weeks to lead times.
As we’ve all witnessed on our TV screens and at every local petrol station, the shortage of drivers and lorries is impacting every industry. It’s impossible to manage delivery lines when goods are collected and then not delivered due to a lack of drivers. Many deliveries are being cancelled altogether as customers can’t take in the goods when they arrive, as their own deliveries haven’t left and they have no space. Pallets are being stacked two high to fit more on a vehicle, causing damage to the goods on the lower pallet and some pallets of goods are going missing altogether.
And through it all, we’re still offering our customers an excellent service. We’re fully manned and exceptionally customer focused, and we’re incredibly grateful to our customers and our staff who keep the wheels turning in turbulent times. As long as we keep supporting each other and working together we will continue to feed the nation as we collectively get back on our feet. Here’s to a better future!