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Hospitality industry in the UK threatened by staff shortages

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Two housekeepers making a hotel bed
Housekeepers are expected to receive a 7.4% pay rise, but UK businesses still struggle to recruit staff | Photo: Liliana Drew

The hospitality and leisure sector’s post-pandemic recovery, in the UK, could be severely hampered by the lack of staff, a new report from a British bank has revealed.

“UK Hospitality’s Next Challenge”, a study from Barclays Corporate Banking, shows that the release of pent-up consumer demand for socialising, holidays and experiences following the pandemic has given a boost to the sector. Over three quarters (77%) of H&L operators are confident of growth this year, and had predicted an average 30.5% uplift in revenue compared with pre-pandemic levels. This equates to a £36bn² rise in annual turnover over 2019, and a £54bn increase on 2021.

However, the predicted growth could be stifled by soaring supplier costs and a scramble for talent. Hospitality and leisure businesses report that their transport costs have already spiked by over 38% year-on-year on average, and their utility bills by 37%.

Meanwhile, over nine in 10 (94%) hospitality and leisure businesses are struggling to recruit personnel, with vacancies for cleaning staff (20%), front of house staff (18%), and delivery staff (16%) causing the most issues. There are particularly acute shortages of cleaners in the East Midlands and the East of England (28%).

Almost a fifth (16%) of bars and restaurants are finding it difficult to hire waiting staff, and over two fifths of gyms and leisure centres (42%) cannot find fitness instructors. Recruitment issues also extend to back-of-house and C-suite roles: 17% of operators are having trouble sourcing finance staff and 16% said the same about senior management positions.

“Crucially for the industry, our research shows that talent shortages are also a major concern, with businesses in every vertical finding it challenging to fill their vacancies. It means there is now an added imperative for hospitality and leisure firms to find new and novel ways to recruit, reward and retain their staff.” – says Mike Saul, Head of Hospitality and Leisure at Barclays Corporate Banking.

Hospitality and leisure operators are already establishing new incentives to recruit and retain talent, including permanent work flexibility, the introduction of bonuses, and an increase in staff welfare budgets.

Almost one in five employers (19%) have also increased wages given to staff. Senior managers are set to receive the biggest boost to their pay packets, with an average increase of 7.7% – equivalent to £2,014 a year for a full-time worker. Delivery riders, housekeepers and kitchen staff are also expected to see their wages rise in 2022.

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Disneyland Paris renames theme park in $2 billion revamp

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Facade os Disney Paris with Disney's characters standing in front of it
The transformation of Walt Disney Studios Park will see it almost double in size.

Disneyland Paris has unveiled a new name for Walt Disney Studios Park as part of the park’s US$2 billion transformation.

Walt Disney Studios Park will become Disney Adventure World when the new immersive area, World of Frozen, opens.

The transformation of Walt Disney Studios Park will see it almost double in size.

“We’re changing the story of Walt Disney Studios Park, evolving from ‘how it’s done’ soundstages to celebratory theatres and adventures that come to life in immersive worlds,” said Tom Fitzgerald, chief storytelling executive at Walt Disney Imagineering and senior creative executive for Disneyland Paris.

“These fully realised adventure worlds will become the focus of the park’s new identity and appear as realms that guests discover as they navigate deeper within the park and are invited to participate in adventures inspired by our most beloved stories.”

As part of the rebrand, the park’s entrance is also being reimagined, with the current design replaced with ‘crafted décor that pays homage to historic movie theaters in Hollywood and the entertainment industry as a whole.’

“Embracing a transformation that involves the overhaul of more than 90 percent of Walt Disney Studios Park since its debut in 2002, we’re unveiling a fresh creative vision that has completely redefined our second gate,” said Natacha Rafalski, president of Disneyland Paris.

Previous investments in the property include World of Pixar, which opened at the park in 2021 and Avengers Campus (2022).

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EU economy forecast to grow 1.0% in 2024

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Expected economy growth is largely due to consumers spending more this year | Photo: Christiann Koepke

The Commission has published this week a new forecast for the European Union economy, with a more upbeat scenario for consumers. After a downturn in economic activity in 2023, inflation rates will continue to drop and the EU economy should gradually grow in 2024. This is largely driven by ‘consumers spending more, thanks to higher wages and more job opportunities,’ it is believed. 

Concretely, the EU economy should grow 1.0% in 2024. The euro area economy should reach 0.8% of growth. In 2025, GDP will grow even more. Meantime, EU inflation has fallen dramatically since it peaked in 2022. It is expected to wind down to 2.7% in 2024 and to 2.2% in 2025.  

The jobs market is also performing well. Despite the slowdown in activity, the EU economy created more than 2 million jobs in 2023. Activity and employment rates of people aged 20-64 hit new record highs in the last quarter of the year. In March 2024, the unemployment rate in the EU stood at a record low of 6.0%. 

Some challenges remain. For instance, investment growth is slowing since fewer new homes are being built, which affects various industries. As a result, it is expected that interest rates will drop more slowly than anticipated. 

The Commission publishes four economic forecasts throughout a given year, covering GDP and inflation data for all Member States, the EU and the euro area. 

In the UK the scenario is also looking positive, with the Office for National Statistics having recently confirmed that the UK unemployment rate for January to March 2024 (4.3%) is above estimates of a year ago (January to March 2023), and increased in the latest quarter. 

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Mango to strengthens its presence in the UK with 20 store openings

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Mango store facade at Oxford street, London
At the close of the 2023 financial year, Mango had 60 stores in the UK

Mango, one of Europe’s leading fashion groups, continues its expansion and brand consolidation plan in the UK with more than 20 store openings planned for 2024. Growth is focused on expanding its presence in London and Scotland, as well as the arrival for the first time in several cities in Northern Ireland and central and southern England.

“The UK is one of the priority markets for Mango’s international growth. The increased presence in London and our arrival this year in some cities where we have not been present until now will consolidate the Mango brand and help us to strengthen it internationally,” says Daniel López, Mango’s Director of Expansion and Franchising.

The company plans four store openings in London this year, in addition to last February’s opening of a store in the Windsor Yards shopping centre in the heart of historic Windsor, close to Windsor Castle

Mango will also increase its presence in Scotland with store openings in Glasgow and Edinburgh, and for the first time will reach cities in Northern Ireland, as well as central and southern England. 

The new Mango store will incorporate the New Med Mediterranean-inspired store concept, reflecting the spirit and freshness of the brand. Sustainability and architectural integration are the key to this new design that conceives the Mango store as a Mediterranean home with different spaces in which warm tones and neutral colours predominate, combined with traditional, handcrafted, sustainable and natural materials such as ceramics, tuff, wood, marble, esparto grass and leather.

 
Mango has been present in the UK since 1999. In 2021, the company strengthened its presence in the country with the opening of a new flagship store on Oxford Street in London and three other stores in Manchester, Edinburgh and Derby. 

Last year, Mango opened more than 10 stores, mainly in the south and centre of the country, in major cities such as Bristol, London, Manchester and Leeds. Key among them was the store opening in Westfield Stratford City, one of the largest shopping centres in the UK. In addition, the company arrived for the first time in Brighton with a 470 m2 store in the Churchill Square shopping centre.

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