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The Caterer poll – your views on the industry

21 August 2009 by
The Caterer poll – your views on the industry

Every week in the Caterer poll the industry delivers its verdict on the big stories of the day. Kerstin Kühn rounds up the results of the last six months.


DO YOU HAVE A SWINE FLU CONTINGENCY IN PLACE?

YES: 42%
NO: 58%

The news The hospitality industry must create firm contingency plans to deal with the increasingly imminent impact of the swine flu pandemic. The British Hospitality Association (BHA) called on the sector to develop strategies to cope with an outbreak but stopped short of issuing an industry-wide response.

Your verdict Graham Turner, chief executive of restaurant group Tragus, said the company was treating swine flu like it would any other emergency and had no specific measures in place yet. Nearly 60% of you suggested you felt the same.


SHOULD MCDONALD'S BE THE SOLE BRANDED FOOD OUTLET AT THE 2012 LONDON OLYMPICS?

YES: 12%
NO: 88%

The news McDonald's is in talks to become the sole branded food outlet visible at the 2012 Olympics. Under the proposed deal, other food operators would only be able to sell their products in some Olympic sites if they remove labels or changed packaging.

Your verdict The industry, and 88% of you, criticised McDonald's likely status as the exclusive food brand, insisting the US fast food chain does not represent British values and independent operators should be included in the games.


WILL THE NEW CODE OF PRACTICE ON TIPS RESTORE THE RESTAURANT INDUSTRY'S TARNISHED IMAGE?

YES: 34%
NO: 66%

The news The BHA urged all restaurateurs to adopt a new code of practice on how to distribute service charges. The code was developed with the Department for Business to complement new legislation coming into force in October, banning the practice of topping up minimum wage with tips.

Your verdict The regulation was introduced following a long-running union campaign that highlighted the low basic salaries paid by major restaurant operators. However, two thirds of you felt the change in practice would not restore the industry's poor image.

SHOULD THE STAR RATING SYSTEM FOR HOTELS BE SCRAPPED?

YES: 43%
NO: 57%

The news Hotel group Jurys Inns called for the hotel star rating to be scrapped, claiming it is no longer relevant to the modern hotel customer. The call followed an international survey of 5,000 consumers which revealed that value for money, quality of service, a good night's sleep and general cleanliness have the biggest impact on satisfaction.

Your verdict Jurys Inns argued the star rating focused on details "completely irrelevant to how the majority of consumers choose accommodation". According to our poll, the industry didn't agree.

ARE YOU CONFIDENT ABOUT LONDON'S ABILITY TO HOST THE 2012 OLYMPICS FOLLOWING THE G20 SUMMIT?

YES: 48%
NO: 52%

The news The hospitality industry was at the centre of April's G20 summit and associated protests, with hotels, restaurants and City caterers experiencing both the benefits and drawbacks of the meeting of world leaders.

Your verdict The industry was split on Gordon Brown's decision to host the G20 summit in the capital, with some experiencing the event positively but others, including Restaurant Association vice-chairman Richard, Earl of Bradford, saying it had done "immense harm to London business". You agreed with the latter but only by a small margin.


DO YOU THINK ABUSE OF THE MINIMUM WAGE IS RIFE IN HOSPITALITY?

YES: 91%
NO: 9%

The news Some hotel operators are regularly paying staff less than the national minimum wage, running the risk of heavy fines. The national minimum wage for those aged 22 and over is £5.73 an hour but some employers pay staff as little as £4.50 an hour.

Your verdict Sources said that abuse of minimum wage is rife in certain areas of the hospitality industry and the vast majority of you concurred. Most of the staff involved - often young or foreign workers - are too afraid to speak out for fear of losing their jobs.


WOULD A VAT CUT ON RESTAURANT MEALS BOOST THE INDUSTRY?

YES: 76%
NO: 24%

The news The French government won a long-running campaign to cut the VAT rate at its restaurants to as low as 5.5% in a bid to invigorate trade. The change in law is available to all 27 EU members but a number said they would not apply it.

Your verdict The BHA argued it "wouldn't be practical politics" to push for a similar cut in the UK as restaurant prices don't have the same impact on tourism as hotel rates. However, the majority of you felt a VAT slash would help to boost business.

IS FRONT OF HOUSE LESS IMPORTANT THAN THE KITCHEN?

YES: 20%
NO: 80%

The news Marco Pierre White kicked celebrity Hell's Kitchen contestants Linda Evans and Adrian Edmondson out of the kitchen on the ITV1 reality show and ordered them to serve customers as "punishment" for poor performance.

Your verdict The Academy of Food and Wine lashed out at White, with chairman Nick Scade saying it was unfair that the public was given the idea that a front of house role was less important than the kitchen. "It would be nice if more emphasis was given to the importance of front of house," he said, and 80% of you agreed.

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