Wetherspoons chair talks recruitment, as M&B points to higher costs

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Im Martin, the Brexiteer chairman of pub giant JD Weatherpoon, will “go in person” for a two-year immigration visa to help ease the industry’s workforce shortage problem.

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His remarks came on the same day that Toby Carvery and Mitchell & Butler, the rival business behind All Bar One, cautioned about cost headwinds pressing the hospitality sector, including higher salaries.

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Martin, whose firm employs about 40,000 people, said: “Just because you’re not in the European Union doesn’t mean you can’t have a liberal immigration policy. can make.”

He also told hospitality news site Propel: “I personally would go for a two-year immigration visa. There is no easy path in terms of recruitment.”

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Martin, speaking to the Evening Standard, said he would support an Australian-style points system “which includes, as most Britons know, a temporary visa system”.

Michels & Butler’s chief executive Phil Urban said his firm is “probably where we need to be” in terms of workforce.

But he said the pub industry had lost workers in other sectors, such as supermarkets, during the lockdown when bars had to close, while some workers originally returned to Europe from outside the UK and did not return.

Urban told the Standard: “Anything that allows people to come and work on a visa, I would fully support. Access to another talent pool would be very helpful right now.”

Mitchells & Butler, which operates around 1,660 locations, is expecting a big increase in utility bills, adding to the current pressures the sector is grappling with.

The firm warned that it is working to reduce costs, but there will inevitably be a residual impact on the performance of the current fiscal.

Investors focused on encouraging signs from the year to September 25, and new figures that show comparable sales in eight weeks are up 2.7%.

Shares rose 8p, or more than 3%, to 244p.

Revenue for the full year fell from £1.5 billion to £1.5 billion, but this narrowed the pre-tax deficit from £123 million to £42 million. The group said sales have gradually strengthened since the last lockdown was lifted, and Urban said there is “a gradual return to consumer confidence”.

Jefferies analyst James Wheatcroft said: “M&B should gain physical market share through reopening with well-invested, 82% freehold, well-located, food-oriented pub estates.”

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