Reports from members about the summer trading so far has been positive with figures released in January confirming sales for our sector were extremely strong during the Christmas period and have indeed increased on last year. Factors sighted as contributing to the increase include the Reserve Bank cutting the OCR, which flows on to lower mortgage rates, as well as continued GDP growth. This was supported by solid tourist spending… all positive for our industry over the Christmas period!

However, economists have been waving the caution signs and are predicting a slowing down of this trend, saying that regional centres may feel the impact of ongoing belt tightening by farmers, while in Auckland the slowing housing market may put a dampener on spending. This coupled with growing global concerns over the international financial markets add to concern. It’s difficult to say where we are heading for the rest of 2016.

With that said, we are currently conducting a survey to our members (Restaurant Association Snapshot Survey, January 2016) which examines insights into our industry. The preliminary results confirm sales reports and show that the majority of those surveyed had seen a marked increase in trading in 2015 with many optimistic about trading moving into 2016.

However, while they are optimistic about business performance members have predicted their number one challenge will be finding skilled staff in 2016.

This problem will continue to challenge the industry with tourist numbers expected to increase from nearly three million in 2014 to almost five million in 2025, putting more pressure on an already stretched pool of talent.

At the Restaurant Association we work hard to support and assist our members with the challenges they face in running their hospitality businesses. We are taking definitive action with regard to this problem. In 2014 we started a series of employer forums to seek feedback from the industry about where to go and how we can assist with this problem.

One of the solutions that came out of these forums was implemented last year in the form of our Prostart training programme. Prostart was born from a need to assist our members with this very real challenge. The Restaurant Association has been successfully running the Auckland Prostart programme over the last six months with plans to extend the training through some of our other regions in 2016.

If you are interested in being part of our forums please contact the Association as we are keen to speak to as many of you as possible. This is an industry issue and we need to work together to address this.

In other updates and perhaps a tool for retention we are taking our most popular professional development seminars on the road this year. With support from the Hospitality Training Trust the roadshow will be kicking off in Wellington in April this year with Emerging Managers presented by Krishna Botica and Food Costing and Menu Engineering presented by Stephen Thompson in April. The first half of the year we have set the dates for the following areas:

  • 9th May 2016 - Emerging Managers - Rotorua
  • 13th June 2016 - Emerging Managers - Queenstown
  • 4th July 2016 - Menu engineering & costing - Christchurch
  • 11th July 2016 - Emerging Managers – Christchurch

For more information check out our website or call us 0800 737 827.

– By Marisa Bidois, CEO of the NZ Restaurant Association