Hospitality leader: ‘Sector is inefficient and over-staffed’
JERSEY’S hospitality businesses are employing too many staff and should aim to operate more efficiently rather than relying on cheap foreign labour, a leading industry figure has said.
Dominic Jones, director of JP Restaurants, which runs the Jersey Pottery chain, said that he believes better regulation of the sector could see worker productivity improve and that fewer ‘larger and stronger’ businesses operating in the industry would benefit the Island.
Unlike many of his contemporaries in the industry, Mr Jones has been supportive of a number of recent government policies, including restricting the number of work licences issued to foreign workers, introducing a user-pays waste charge on firms and upping the minimum wage to a level closer to the UK’s living wage.
He said that the sector would do well to follow the example of the finance sector, which has become more tightly regulated in recent years but, in his view, more resilient as a result, as larger, stronger and ‘fitter’ firms have emerged.
‘What has happened in finance is that the smaller firms were regarded as a risk. Due to regulation there are now fewer firms, which are stronger, like JTC and Sanne, which bought up those smaller firms,’ he said.
‘I think they should do a similar thing in hospitality. The right thing to do is to look at things like the living wage and better regulation, if you want more productive and profitable businesses.’
Mr Jones said he believes that the industry currently employs too many staff and the States should focus on bring skilled migrant workers to the Island rather than cheap labour.
He added that better use of technology, and more efficient management, would streamline the industry’s labour requirements and boost staff productivity.
‘What you always hear is the industry saying that the government needs to provide a solution for their problems,’ he said.
‘But saying we are going through a difficult time, so the government should not introduce a waste charge and should allow us more cheap immigrant labour is not good enough.
‘We already have over-capacity in the industry, which is inefficient, and this would just see the status quo maintained.
‘With the waste charge, I think that it is only right that in a small community like Jersey, waste collection is on a user-pays basis.
‘If it isn’t, there is going to be no incentive for businesses to reduce the level of waste that they are producing.
‘We are a small community and we need to work together on these things and you need to legislate to make it happen.’
He added: ‘I think that both the industry and the government need to provide solutions to these issues and at least I am trying to do that.
‘What I say might not necessarily be right but I think people need to be bolder and we need a public debate on how we move forward.’