01 January 2000

Standing up for the poor unit manager

AS someone who has been a member of our wonderful industry for the past 25 years, I read with amazement the letters criticising Russell & Brand (23 February).

For more than 15 years I was involved at site level with contract catering. During that time, I lost count of the number of times I was forced into being economical with the truth due to "company policy" on purchasing and, in particular, inter unit prices.

It was for this reason I left this side and embarked on a far more rewarding career running my own business.

I am in no doubt that Mr Brand enjoys the publicity side of his campaign to clean up the industry. However, love him or loathe him, you cannot get away from the fact that he has transformed the life of the poor, too often forgotten, unit manager.

Integrity is everything in this life and someone who is prepared to stand up and be counted should be applauded.


Queen's Head,

Chelmsford, Essex.

Ringing the changes

Isn't it about time people realised that mobile telephones are an important part of modern business and communications?

As someone who has owned and communicated by cellphone for many years, I am fed up at having to hide its existence and walk down deserted streets in case it should ring in public. Mike Brearey (Reader Diaries, 16 February) should wake up and smell the coffee. They are set to become a big part of modern life, as well as an efficient way of communicating with other inhabitants of this planet. A lot of people who were criticising them years ago are now proud owners.

It's no longer just the so-called yuppies who own them, nor are they a statement of wealth. If the only popular argument that protagonists can come up with is that users shout into them, well, people have been shouting into payphones for years.

I think social acceptance is on the horizon. Be proud to be part of the modern, communicating world. Don't be brow-beaten by the non-communicators.


Four Calendar Restaurants,


Concern of the AA hoteliers

I refer to the article "Variable Commissions" (9 February).

As I understand it, Expotel will now be handling all the bookings for the AA as it has now been appointed its agent. Does this mean Expotel will fill its own hotels first, before the rest of the hotels in the AA booking system. Or can we rely on their unfaulting professionalism to resist the temptation to use their exceptional contacts?

A truly beguiling dilemma.


Crescent Lodge Hotel,

Harrow, Middlesex.

Best ideas come from reflection

I think your Adopted Businesses series is great. Week after week I watch their progress with fascination. I feel I know the people involved, although I have never met them.

You make more money by thinking reflectively about your business than working physically. The good ideas usually come when you are off work. They can arise when you are walking, playing golf or sitting in your bath.

The trouble is that thinking is hard work!

Too many people think high profits can come from working 15 hours a day. This is necessary in the opening months. But later, it is essential to set aside some time to unwind and reflect. This is where the best ideas and higher profits come from.


Melvyn Greene & International Associates,

New Malden, Surrey.

Pooling funds does the job

Congratulations to the Heart of England, East Midlands, East Anglia Tourist Boards and the British Tourist Authority on their excellent brochure, Central England - The Essential England 1995.

It is informative, giving lots of ideas of places to see. I am sure incorporating all these areas in one brochure will stimulate people to visit places they perhaps hadn't thought of before because of the superb spread of the brochure.

By pooling resources from already shrunken tourist budgets, the various boards would undoubtedly be able to produce a quality publication at a much better price. I am sure the "further information coupons" will come flooding in to the attractions and centres.

Well done all concerned, and thank you.


Sales Manager,

The Regent Hotel, Leamington Spa.

New schemes for apprentices

Christopher Terleski describes the apprenticeship scheme offered by the Centre de Formation Professionelle at Angers and talks about the need for a craft training programme aimed at motivating youngsters for a career, not a job.

Good news! This month we are releasing details of a Modern Apprenticeship Scheme for the hospitality industry. Developed by a broad partnership of government, industry, Training and Enterprise Councils and the HCTC, Modern Apprenticeships will enable keen, talented young people to develop high levels of skills while working in the industry.

Modern Apprenticeships will be available not just for kitchen staff, but also for food service, accommodation service, fast food and (we hope) pub staff. The cost of training will be supported by most TECs.

All the people involved in developing the Modern Apprenticeship Scheme are genuinely convinced of the benefits it will bring to employers and ambitious young people alike.

The scheme will get under way in September and any employer interested in taking on an apprentice can get details from HCTC.


Chief Executive,

Hotel & Catering Training Company, London W5.

Keep standards high in education

I have been teaching in further education for the past eight years have spent the previous 24 years in operational management positions within the hospitality industry.

My specialist subject is front office operations, and since I started my teaching career I have seen City & Guilds 709 and 720 disappear, to be replaced by NVQ Reception at levels 1, 2 and 3. Every time there has been a change, the content of the qualification has diminished to the point where I wonder whether my current students will have sufficient knowledge and experience to satisfy the demanding requirements of industry, even though they gain the qualification.

I don't doubt that NVQs are suitable for the work-place but, in my experience, they don't work in full-time further education. I fear for the future of the hospitality industry, and the youth of our country and their chances of employment.

When will someone in authority realise that our education and further education provision is in a mess, listen to the lecturers who teach these qualifications, and then do something to return us to a sound, traditional system?


Sandhurst, Cranbrook, Kent.

Is there any hope for the telex?

I write to enquire if any of your readers have any good ideas on what to do with telex machines or telex lines.

As time progresses, the number of telexes we receive diminishes rapidly - perhaps one to two a week - and we send even fewer.

We own our telex machine so the only real cost we have is that of the BT line rental.

This modern age of fax machines, E-mail and mobile phones really seems to have made the machine redundant, yet I am loath to abolish it altogether.


General Manager,

Cardiff International Hotel, Cardiff.

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