President’s Report – December 2023

President’s Report – December 2023

It’s the end of November and time for another monthly report. Starting off with some positive news we held our yearly conference and had the president’s dinner at the magnificent Carton House in Kildare. Over 100 delegates joined us at the conference and 160 people sat down for dinner. The theme of the conference was recovery and the future of hospitality, both sessions were full, with engaging and relevant content. After what was a great start to the month we left the conference feeling upbeat and positive about what was ahead.

However, for most of us it was short-lived, as we returned to our various hospitality businesses. Like September and October, November has been as hard as any of them.

This month saw as severe hike in VAT payments as the extra 4.5% was introduced. We can accept that the minimum wage is going up in January. We will also accept that the auto enrolment for pensions will be introduced next year and that sick pay will increase from 3 to 5 days next year. However, we cannot accept is the 4.5% of a VAT rise. Our businesses have been crippled with these costs. The government is deluded, they have no concept of how hard it is to run a hospitality business, the lack of respect shown to our sector with all of these additional costs of doing business is an absolute kick in the teeth. Just short of 50 businesses closed in the month of November alone and over the summer months we saw a further 140 businesses close. We all accept that there is an always an amount of openings and closures on a regular day-to-day basis, but the alarming rate in which we are seeing closures is very worrying.

All of these businesses are highlighting that the reasons for closures are because of the cost of doing business. The increase in VAT has been highlighted as the major tipping point. Unfortunately I fear the things are going to get a lot worse before they got a lot better. Over the next few months our sector will be decimated that I am sure, and no amount of business in December will help cushion the effects of the quieter months of January February and March, the Restaurants Association of Ireland, will continue to lobby the government, we will highlight these closures and effects that they are having on our sector. 9% is the correct rate for a food lead business and it is our number one objective heading into 2024. There is no doubt about that we are in very tough times. Over the last few it has been well publicised that more and more people are saying it’s getting too expensive to eat out. Less and less are eating at midweek and they’re leaving it to the weekends to go out. Eventually more and more restaurants will start shortening the opening hours as the mid weeks are not viable. Unfortunately this is the beginning of the end for a lot of them.

I urge you all, like I do in a lot of these reports. Speak to your local representatives. Make sure they know how hard things are. We need everybody on the same page. We cannot afford to let them get away with this. The livelihoods of so many people are at risk. 

Yours in hospitality, 

Paul Lenehan 

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