The redefined RA will aim to capitalise on London’s high profile dining business in government, and spread it across the UK.
Initiatives will focus on employment issues, rent costs, VAT rate changes and online reviews, and one of the association’s first aims is to support the industry in implementing the upcoming EU allergen labelling regulations.
The BHA is also hosting the Big Hospitality Conversation tomorrow (24 September) at London’s City Hall.
The Club at The Ivy’s 24-year-old chef de partie, April partridge, will be speaking at the event, hoping to attract more young people into the industry and encourage businesses to offer more structured work placements and apprenticeships for young unemployed 16-to-24-year-olds.
Interview: Restaurant Association chairman David Loewi
BigHospitality spoke to the RA's new chairman David Loewi about the re-launch and urgent issues to tackle.
What’s the role of the Restaurant Association?
The Restaurant Association is a dedicated BHA division for restaurant ambassadors and industry leaders of restaurant groups, chains and independent sites from all corners of the UK. The RA already features 20 of the Good Food Guide’s top 50 restaurants as members.
Why the re-launch of the Restaurant Association?
Hospitality and tourism now accounts for over 10 per cent of the UK’s workforce and is the fourth largest employing industry in the UK, its growth significantly outpacing the rest of the economy. As the sector’s workforce continues to grow, so does its relative importance to the UK economy. The interest from the international investment community is also growing.
Now is the ideal time to re-launch the Restaurant Association; to raise the profile of both the wider hospitality and restaurant industry and to showcase its significant importance to the UK economy.
What’s going to be the association’s focus from now on?
Our focus will be on expanding our membership and supporting members on their key business issues employment issues such as shortage of waiters and chefs, rent costs and online reviews to name a few. One of our immediate priorities is to help members implement new EU regulations on the way food allergens must be managed and communicated to diners, which comes into force this December.
How does the association hope to tackle key industry issues such as the shortage of waiters and chefs in London, rent costs, changes to the rate of VAT and online reviews?
The BHA and RA have a number of core campaigns, which aim to address and tackle these issues. Take the Big Hospitality Conversation, a major campaign for the whole hospitality industry aims to create new hospitality jobs and demonstrate the value of those jobs to the UK economy.
It’s a joint initiative between the British Hospitality Association, Springboard, Believe in Young People, Business in the Community, People First, and the DWP. 34,000 job opportunities for 16-24 year olds have been created at Big Hospitality Conversation events across the UK in the past two years.
Driving competitiveness is another key activity, we’re asking Government to ensure that the UK is more competitive internationally by improving tourist visa policies for China, Brazil and India for example.
What’s on the agenda, coming out of the re-launch?
One of my key priorities is to continue to showcase the value of hospitality and its prospects to young people. The Big Conversation is an important campaign and research from Google Trends has shown that the interest of ‘jobs in hospitality’ [searched in the UK] has increased by 36 per cent over the last 12 months, which is a great start. Now our priority must be to inspire young people into the industry.