Challenges to Scale & Sale

GJE recently co-hosted a roundtable event along with Nicola Broadhurst from Stevens & Bolton and Martin Jones from UHY Hacker Young to discuss issues affecting the UK’s hospitality sector. Kate Nicholls, CEO at the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR), chaired the roundtable and kicked off the conversation by discussing the current climate in the hospitality industry.

The current climate is positive with the following statistics being highlighted in the discussion:

  • £63bn yearly turnover which equates to 4% of the UK GDP
  • 1 in 3 net new jobs is created in the hospitality sector
  • 60% of young people are employed in hospitality

However, the perfect storm is brewing. With Brexit and the potential rise in business rates, even the largest retailers are not immune to the growing pressures. Access to labour and wage rate inflation poses a threat to the industry and the sector is eagerly looking toward a deal on the EU workers’ rights in order to maintain its workforce or at least a period of transition to avoid a cliff-edge.

Hospitality is the second largest employer of EU nationals which casts a shadow of uncertainty over the industry due to Brexit. Access to labour is becoming a major concern for the industry, especially to businesses operating in London where EU nationals make up at least 70% of the workforce. Businesses will need to consider their recruitment processes and offer improved employee benefits like high-quality apprenticeships, training programmes and a rewarding company culture to attract and retain employees.

With these challenges ahead, the industry needs to consider how to survive and for many the answer is diversification. Adding value through innovation or premium products is a popular choice for diversification in the industry. Companies can do this by adding entertainment and becoming a destination venue or offering premium products like craft beer.

Considering all aspects aforementioned, trade mark protection is crucial when considering a business strategy. Ensuring that you are free to use your brand name in the relevant markets must not be overlooked in order to avoid costly mistakes. Adopting a brand name that is too close to that of another entity would make it more difficult to carve out a niche in the market but over and above this, puts you at risk of an expensive infringement action and an enforced brand change. Assuming you are free to use your brand name, obtaining registered protection is advisable. A registered trade mark is a strong deterrent to others thinking about a similar name and it is also easier to rely on a registered trade mark to take action against inappropriate use. Furthermore, a registered trade mark is an asset against which investment can be made and it can increase the value of the company in a possible eventual sale.

If you have any questions about this article, or would like to find out more about our event and how trade mark protection can protect and grow your hospitality business in times of uncertainty, please contact Ed Carstairs or call 020 7655 8622.