Fulham Shore, the group behind the pizza brand and Real Greek chain, said in its full-year financial results yesterday (12 June) that the referendum had created ‘considerable uncertainty’ over the future of its EU workers.
“The long-term Brexit impact is unknown; it is, however, already affecting the availability of skilled European restaurant staff,” said Fulham Shore chairman David Page.
“In addition, food costs are currently on the increase and there is some evidence of reducing consumer expenditure.”
Franco Manca has tripled in size to 38 sites since it was acquired by Fulham Shore in 2015, and created 250 jobs in the year ended 26 March.
The chain said it was investing in its human resources teams and implementing new incentive schemes to encourage ‘key individuals’ to stay as the company grows.
Page’s comments come after The Pizza Pasta & Italian Food Association (PAPA) warned that the UK was already facing a shortage of skilled pizza chefs, with many returning to Italy or mainland Europe following the Leave vote.
PAPA’s research found that around 40-50% of the industry’s workforce comes from outside the UK, with the figure rising to 70% in London.
The group is calling on the Government to introduce a visa system to allow unskilled or semi-skilled workers into the country for a limited period to fill vacancies.
It also wants specialists, such as pizza chefs, to be included on any acceptable skills lists.
“Although Theresa May has made a statement that those EU nationals residing in the UK for more than five years would be offered residency if the EU reciprocates with UK nationals, this does not entirely give confidence and does not deal with the on-going needs of the hospitality industry,” said PAPA director Jim Winship.
“The vast majority of [EU] workers do not stay in the UK long term. However, without them our industry will struggle as there simply aren’t the people here to fill the vacancies.”
The Office for National Statistics estimates that 64,000 EU nationals work in the UK restaurant and hotel sector.