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Pub operators report surge in job applicants

20 July 2020 by

A huge surge of applicants for front and back of house positions has been reported by pub operators following last month's reports that the number of people out of work in the country had increased by 600,000.

Yummy Pubs founder Tim Foster, who operates four pubs in London and Surrey, told The Caterer he had had a "brilliant response" after advertising for floor staff and chefs at the Wiremill Lakeside near Crawley, on social media.

Foster said: "There are thousands of people out there looking for jobs. The world has changed and it's going to change at an even quicker pace. There's a whole skillset of people out there."

Most applicants for the positions were British nationals, which Foster said had been usual pre-Covid-19 due to the pub's rural location.

The winner of the Education and Training Award at the 2018 Cateys said that as well as bringing staff back from furlough, he was recruiting further staff to manage the new booking system and an increased capacity to 168 on a newly built terrace overlooking the lake.

He said government guidelines on taking reservations had "completely transformed" how he operates the Wiremill, forcing him to run a "much tighter operation". He now operates six two-hour bookable slots throughout the day, each taking 115 covers. Although the pub still caters for walk-ins where availability allows, he said that pre-booked slots mean he can plan the staff rota more efficiently. He also remarked on a "huge growth" in the breakfast and brunch side of the business: "I've seen more kids and families here since we opened than in the last 12 years. It's family groups coming out to treat themselves."

But despite "phenomenal" business at Wiremill, it was a different story at Foster's flagship site, Somers Town Coffee House near Euston, London, where he forecast trading at a fraction of pre-Covid levels: "There are pockets of positivity but we have to focus on telling the government about the pressures we're under."

Others in the capital have also reported a similar deluge of job applicants. Mick Dore, who runs the Alexandra pub in Wimbledon, south London, tweeted to say he had received "well over 400 applicants" for two bar jobs in four days. In central London, the Fitzrovia Belle pub and hotel confirmed a similar experience, reporting 250 applicants in 24 hours.

With employers poised to pay furloughed employees' National Insurance and pension contributions from August, further redundancies have been predicted.

Although this may be temporary it could provide some respite for the industry in the immediate future, with the government's immigration bill set to introduce a points-based system and minimum salary thresholds from January 2021.

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