'Ease our pain', industry lays out its demands to No 10
As the two final contenders for Prime Minister, Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt, battle it out for the country’s top job, Beverage Business World asked readers what they’d like the successful candidate to do to support the beverage industry.
Ease the pain on the high street, says Laura Harper-Hinton, co-founder & creative director, Caravan Bars, Restaurants & Roasters.
“The high street is dying due to an uneven playing field, where e-commerce benefits because of the significant cost pressure of owning and operating a bricks and mortar business.
“It’s the SMEs that suffer here the most and they make up the backbone of the hospitality sector.”
Also, she adds: Reduce and remove rates and VAT.
“Change the laws around ‘upward only’ rent reviews – they only benefit the Landlords and are not indicative of the market changes.
“Most importantly – and this reaches across all sectors – ALL corporations must pay their full tax obligations. This is the one thing that, if corrected, would substantially change the nation for all. Any Government should be prioritising this.”
Save our industry from ever-rising costs, says Robert Robinson, co-founder of Notes Coffee.
“The high street is in crisis – traditional retail brands continue to disappear and now the casual dining sector is following suit. Businesses cannot continue to bear increasing costs of pensions, wages and business rates.
“Something has to give and if the Government wants to continue to raise salaries – a laudable goal – then it needs to relieve costs in other areas, so we can continue to thrive. So, for every increase in pensions and wages, let’s have a decrease in business rates to match. This could be funded by increasing rates for business premises away from the high street, such as online shopping warehouses, which currently pay a very low rate.”
Lower business rates, asks Raf Mlodzianowski, industry commentator, BBW columnist and coffee expert.
“Having such high rates is killing small businesses and also contributing heavily towards low wages and constant pressures on suppliers to make products cheaper.
“This is more a problem in London than elsewhere, but it is a bad trend that all cities are facing.”
Recognise the important role the sector plays in the economy, requests Peter Spanton, founder of Peter Spanton Drinks and former restaurateur.
“I know some of the greatest business ideas start over a drink, and I've been part of those entrepreneurial discussions myself. Our premium mixers, in both cocktail and non-alcoholic serves, lubricate the wheels of commerce and in a tough market for operators, I’d ask the new PM how he or she is going to recognise the importance that bars and restaurants play in the economy by supporting the sector.”
Emma Haines, coffee trainer and BBW columnist:
“More business support, for example, allowing rates relief on more than one small site. Providing strong business support/advice to enable smaller businesses to grow and pay staff well.”
UKHospitality, the industry body representing more than 700 companies, operating around 65,000 venues in the UK:
“We have heard some positive noises from the Government in recent years that they would tackle the persistent problem of business rates, but nowhere near enough action. This remains a significant issue for hospitality businesses, as BBW readers have highlighted.
“With a new Prime Minister taking the reins, there is an opportunity to hammer home the message that business rates must be reformed, and act on the Conservative manifesto pledge to reform the system. Otherwise, some businesses will continue to struggle.
“UKHospitality has contacted the Conservative leadership candidates outlining the priorities for the hospitality sector, one of which is rates reform, and called on them to act positively to support businesses fighting unfair bills. We will continue to press the eventual winner, whoever that is, on the issue to ensure it remains firmly on the Government’s radar.”
- Laura Harper-Hinton, co-founder & creative director, Caravan Roasters & Restaurants and Robert Robinson, co-founder of Notes Coffee are on the Steering Committee for European Coffee, Tea & Soft Drink Expo.
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