As the Restaurants Association of Ireland held its Annual General Meeting and Conference on Monday March 5 at Adare Manor, Co. Limerick, the Association revealed the results of their benchmark survey conducted by BDO. The survey examined several aspects of the industry, including the current outlook of restaurateurs, industry staffing issues and the impact of digital technology on the sector. The majority of respondents to the survey were licensed restaurants.
When examining the future of the restaurant industry in Ireland, respondents reported an optimistic view on business. Of those surveyed, 45% of respondents indicated that turnover was up in 2017, relative to the corresponding period in 2016. 48% also reported that they expect their restaurant overall performance to be better still in 2018 than in 2017. Brexit appears to be giving continued cause for concern with approximately 75% of respondents either mildly or very concerned about its potential impact on their business. Further concerns for restaurateurs were the continuing trend of persistently high insurance premiums, staff shortages in the industry and the incoming new guidelines surrounding restaurants and GDPR. Despite these challenges however, approximately 75% of respondents reported being either confident or very confident about the future outlook of their business.
Those surveyed reported that they have, on average, 19 full-time employees on their staff. 33% of employers indicated that they have increased the number of employees between 2016 and 2017, and 30% plan to increase staffing levels further during 2018 in both front and back of house positions. However, even with these increases, staff shortages and recruitment challenges persist with 82% of respondents indicating that they are finding it difficult to attract and recruit staff to their business. While this challenge is apparent in all areas of the industry, there is a noticeable prevalence of this issue in the area of chef staffing as 84% of respondents reported that chef positions are proving the most difficult position to fill.
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With digital technology becoming more prominent in the hospitality industry, of the 80% of restaurateurs who reported to have a business website, 54% have experienced an increase in the volume of traffic to their website over the last 6 months. Of those who have a website, 61% also indicated that bookings can be made through the site and 48% indicated that they sell vouchers via their site.
Adrian Cummins, Chief Executive of the Restaurants Association of Ireland, commented, “The Restaurants Association is delighted to see that employers are feeling optimistic about business in 2018 and are planning to invest further in the sector. Almost half surveyed reported that turnover had increased in 2017 and that they believe business will be better still in 2018.
“Chef shortages still prove to be one of the most prominent issues for employers in the industry. However, the Restaurants Association has recently taken steps to mitigate this problem by partnering with recruitment specialists Global Force Resource. So far, over 100 chefs are on their way to member restaurants since we launched the partnership two months ago.”