The Professional's Voice

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We recently invited hundreds of leading multi-site pub, bar, restaurant and food-to-go operators to the official launch of the Access Group’s specialist hospitality division. We held the event at London’s prestigious and highly innovative Kitty Hawk bar and restaurant, where five very different dining concepts sit very comfortably under one roof, mirroring our own uniquely diverse technology offering.

In front of a packed audience representing over a hundred hospitality brands, the launch party was the perfect platform to explain where we are coming from as a fast growing technology and software solutions provider while also listening to the ambitions and concerns of the people working on the hospitality sector’s frontline.

Plenty of opportunities for the best operators to thrive

My immediate takeaway from chatting with many operators was the overriding impression that there has never been a better or more challenging time to be involved in the hospitality sector. However, although there are plenty of opportunities for the best operators to thrive and rapidly expand, many challenges still lie ahead.

From a big picture perspective, we all understand the importance of the hospitality industry to the national economy. If we are doing well, the country is invariably thriving. We are the UK’s fourth largest employer. Over 4.5 million people work in the hospitality and tourism industry, the second most labour intensive industry behind agriculture. We are returning the highest levels of labour productivity of any industry since the financial crash – more than double the overall economy’s growth rate. The restaurant sector, for example, is performing particularly impressively and accounts for 65% of the job growth between 2013 and 2016.

60,0000 UK workers will need to be found each year

However, although the hospitality industry is responsible for circa 15% of the total UK employment growth between 2008 and 2016, a perfect storm is gathering on the Brexit horizon. According to a recent KPMG report, commissioned by the British Hospitality Association, 60,0000 UK workers will need to be found each year in addition to an on-going requirement to employ an annual 200,000 new workers to replace churn and meet growth demands.

Financially, last year, our sector contributed an estimated £38bn in direct tax receipts to the UK’s coffers, more than half that amount from VAT charged on sales to customers. Corporation tax was responsible for a tiny 3% proportion of this tax contribution, a stark reminder of the constant profit margin pressures facing operators from factors such as the national living wage, increases in business rates, food inflation and Brexit uncertainty. Few can accurately predict the outcome of our withdrawal from the EU with any degree of certainty, apart from having to tackle our dependence on foreign workers (up to 23.7% of the sector’s workforce are EU migrant workers).

Help operators control their businesses more effectively

Technology and software developers like ourselves have a critical role to play if we are to give you the tools to become more efficient and grow your brand. Our remit as a provider of primarily software as a service (SaaS) solutions is to help operators control their businesses more effectively. Automating, managing and analysing cash, sales, stock, people and data gives you more effective control of your business and enables you to focus on what’s important – the guest experience. Intuitive people management solutions, for example, improve the procedures and processes necessary to recruit and retain the best people for your business.

Accessing our solutions and services could not be easier: you invest in the modules you need now as your operation evolves and simply add more functionality as your business grow and evolves. For instance, smaller start-up multi-site operators investing in our EPOS solutions today may not consider a workforce management solution until they grow to five or six sites, at which point they would reap the benefits of an end-to-end solution to help grow their business.

Most businesses, especially in the hospitality sector, start small, ourselves included. Our founders, who all still work with us, were just a group of computer science nerds fresh out of university. Good friends, they shared a passion for programming and a desire to shake up the technology industry. They have come a long since those early days sat around the parent’s dining room of our current CEO, Chris Bayne. The original quartet is now a workforce of 1,150 generating revenues of over £102m per annum.

Act different and think different

Our philosophy is the same as it was back in the day: have fun and attack everything with high energy, ambition and an unquenchable entrepreneurial spirit. As a challenger brand, we act different and think different. Our solutions help you punch above your weight, just like we’ve always done.

While it is fun looking back, our eyes are fixed firmly on the future: we’ve been busy shopping, acquiring EPOS and stock management specialists Intelligent Business Systems and workforce management and managed payroll services software from Selima. Their best-of-breed products increase the functionality within our business suites. More key purchases are in the pipeline as we look to add further market leading products to a portfolio, which is going to be the most comprehensive in the sector, bar none.

From what I have witnessed so far, a lot of great people work within the hospitality community, refreshingly sharing their ideas with each other. We’re looking forward to doing the same, not just as a technology provider but as thought-leaders listening and responding to your concerns and challenges. It’s going to be a great journey and we’d be delighted if you joined us.

ENDS

Chief Marketing Officer Chris Marjara is leading the launch of Access Hospitality. He has previously held senior marketing posts with technology businesses such as Stepstone, Kronos Inc and McGraw-Hill Education. Find out more at www.theaccessgroup.com/hospitality.

 

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