Pizza chain Franco Manca says Brexit is ‘already affecting the availability of skilled European restaurant staff’

caption
Franco Manca’s sourdough pizza.
source
Franco Manca/Instagram

LONDON – The company that owns fast-growing sourdough pizza restaurant Franco Manca warned on Wednesday that Brexit is already making recruiting staff harder.

David Page, the chairman of Fulham Shore, which owns Franco Manca and The Real Greek restaurants, says in the company’s full-year results: “The long-term Brexit impact is unknown; it is, however, already affecting the availability of skilled European restaurant staff.”

UK Prime Minister Theresa May has made it clear that reducing net migration is one of her top priorities in Brexit, which appears to have put many EU nationals off coming to the UK for work.

The restaurant and fast food businesses are among those sectors likely to be hardest hit, as the industry relies heavily on overseas workers. The Office for National Statistics estimates that 68,000 EU nationals are employed in the restaurant and hotel sector across Britain.

Sandwich chain Pret A Manger highlighted the problems Brexit causes when it warned that it faces a staffing crisis, with just one in 50 applications to work at the fast food shop coming from UK nationals.

Simon Cope, the boss of burger chain Byron, told Business Insider in May: “Byron, along with everyone else in our industry, has some fantastic people in it but a lot of those people are from abroad. They play such an important role in our economy, in our business, and to our customers.”

Fulham Shore also said that Brexit is affecting existing staff who come from the 28-nation bloc. “The result of the EU Referendum has created considerable uncertainty of immigration status of EU nationals. To mitigate these issues the Group has invested in its human resources teams and has implemented a number of incentive schemes designed to retain key individuals.”

Despite the warning over EU workers, Fulham Shore reported a strong set of results, with revenue up 41% to £41.2 million. Franco Manca contributed most of the revenue, £26.7 million, and 13 new pizza restaurants were opened in the year to the end of March 2017.

Page, the former CEO of Pizza Express, warns that “we are entering a difficult forecasting period due to Brexit,” with inflation pushing up food costs and depressing consumer spending. He says: “Against this backdrop, some restaurant businesses will make the grade and others will not.

“We believe that operators with ‘me-too’ offerings, over-rented sites, tails of unprofitable sites, dated menus, too much debt, poor concepts and unincentivised staff (or all of the above) will struggle.”

But he adds: “We believe that our businesses have significant growth potential across the UK underpinned, first and foremost, by the quality and value of their customer offerings. As a result, and despite the challenging backdrop, we are confident that the Group will continue to perform well in the fast-growing casual dining market.”