It has been a busy, challenging and eventful 12 months since the last Catey Awards. Trading has been tough. Added to that, food inflation, public sector spending cuts and sluggish consumer confidence have hit margins hard. Nevertheless, those businesses with high operational standards and inspirational individuals continue to deliver for their own operations and serve as examples to the rest of the industry.
As this year's Catey winners show (page 59), even in the most challenging conditions there are exemplary individuals and businesses doing their utmost to raise and uphold standards. By honouring their achievements, we offer the industry a benchmark against which it can gauge its own accomplishments, and a blueprint for continuing business success.
But even the best operators need the right conditions in which to thrive. A month after last year's awards, Prime Minister David Cameron seemed to put his full weight behind hospitality and tourism when he said he viewed the sectors as essential to rebuilding the British economy; and wanted to see the UK in the "top five destinations in the world".
However, the subsequent rise in VAT to 20% has done little to deliver on his vision. That is why Caterer and Hotelkeeper has this week launched a new campaign to lower VAT for hospitality, called Slash VAT, Boost Business.
Around Europe, Governments have introduced special VAT rates to help hotels, restaurants and bars. They were joined last week by the Irish Government, which cut VAT from 13.5% to 9% for tourism and hospitality businesses (see page 7). Meanwhile the UK still suffers from the second-highest rate of VAT in Europe (after Denmark).
It is not a panacea, but a VAT cut even for a limited period could ease the pressure on a very significant section of the economy, boosting jobs and promoting growth. It is time the Government made good on its promises. Find out how to join our campaign on pages 28 and 29.
Mark Lewis, Editor, Caterer and Hotelkeepermark.firstname.lastname@example.org