Presidents Introduction – November 2016

I must start by thanking those who so far have attended the branch meetings. It was great to meet and hear the challenges that we all face in our industry and also to give some advice and showcase the work we do for you. In our Pre Budget Submission, we set out a number of objectives that needed to be met. We stressed that Budget 2017 needed to put Tourism, Hospitality and Food at the centre of our recovery. The Retention of VAT at 9% into 2017 is crucial not only for the sustainability of restaurants and businesses in the tourism sector but also to job creation and the continued growth of our economy. We are also happy to see no increase in excise duty for a second year in a row. I’d like to personally thank Minister Noonan for delivering a budget which will benefit us all, while creating jobs. We must never forget that Tourism delivers income and jobs in every town and city and every corner of our country. The success of the lower rate of VAT is evident in the 41,200 new jobs that have been created since its introduction in 2011.

I must add that the cost of doing businesses for restaurateurs is increasing year on year. The cost of operating a tourism business in Ireland continues to be higher than the EU average across a range of metrics, putting the sector at a disadvantage internationally. I’m happy to see the 9% tourism tax retained for another year to help my businesses and ensure sustainability and growth particularly in rural and border areas but I must add the government are doing nothing for what lies in store with the major effects of Brexit on the horizon. Trade between Ireland and England is worth one billion a week with food exports contributing to this and with currency fluctuation, we will see small companies and artisan suppliers to Britain destroyed. Cross border shopping has already begun and is in full flow. Restaurants along the border counties have seen a sharp decline in visitors from Northern Ireland. I’ve seen it first hand in both my restaurants and I’m very concerned for what the New Year will bring. The current government must address issues with Brexit rather than burying their heads in the sand. With a two-tier economy, rural Ireland and border counties will see job losses unless the government start to do something about it.  As president of the Restaurants Association I’m calling for a clear strategy to how the Irish are to deal with Brexit and minimise damage to Irish tourism. The Irish Tourism industry is highly dependent on the British Market as over 3 million from the UK visit Ireland each year. The government must implement a plan to address rural Ireland.

I’m also calling on the government and Failte Ireland to address the major crisis we face in the shortage of chefs and to re-establish CERT – this is the only solution.  We state as an association that the main skills shortages are among suitably qualified chefs.  Shortages of commis chefs feed into shortages at higher and specialist levels. Among the applicants submitted for chef positions, many are deemed not to be appropriately qualified. This reflects the fact that there are not enough chef training centres. Currently 1800 chefs qualify each year from certified culinary training programmes. There is an immediate deficit of 5000 chef trainees annually. So therefore the chef shortage in this country is an ongoing problem and needs to be addressed.

This month I was featured in the Hotel & Catering Times discussing rising rental costs and effects it had on restaurateurs and business owners. The article can be found online on pages 15-18 through this here.

Congrats to our CEO Mr Adrian Cummins who was elected to the executive committee of the representative body of all of the hotels, restaurants and cafés in Europe, an umbrella group called Hospitality Europe (HOTREC). Cummins was voted in at a HOTREC conference taking place in Malta last month. Furthermore, I was asked to become a member of the HOTREC task force so Ireland will be well represented at all levels.

Finally, as preparations get underway for the Christmas season, and with many large group bookings taking place in restaurants, the RAI have put together some information on taking deposits and credit card details. Please see link for taking a deposit – Advice from the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission. Remember: No-shows are a big problem in the restaurant trade and as such we’d advise members to have a proper booking and cancellation policy in place all year round.

Irish Restaurant Golf Society Christmas Outing takes place on Monday 28th November at Baltray Golf Club. Tee Times: 10:30 am – 11:30 am with a three course meal in Scholars Townhouse to follow. Prosecco and canapé reception at 6:30 pm and dinner at 7pm. Full package costs €85 pp with a special price of €40pp for non-golfers. As President of the RAI and Captain of the Golf Society I would encourage all members, patrons and trade partners of the RAI to join us at this excellent event and last outing of 2016.

Slan go fóill


Anthony Gray 

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