The Brexit impact on UK hospitality and actionable steps

We look at how Brexit is affecting the UK hospitality industry, and share how businesses can adapt to survive.
Michael Radley
Dec 2023
4 min read

The UK hospitality industry has been hit hard by the pandemic and Brexit.

Changes to immigration laws, food prices and regulations threaten business survival. Hospitality businesses need to adapt to do more with less.

The impact of Brexit on the UK hospitality industry

Staff shortages

Changes to the UK immigration system means that non-UK workers earning less than £20,480 can no longer be employed in this country.

This is a huge blow for the hospitality sector which relies on EU migrants—pre Brexit, non-UK workers made up 25% of the hospitality workforce.

Due to harsher migration laws and the pandemic, almost 300,000 hospitality workers have left their jobs and returned to their home countries since March 2020. And with travel restrictions still in place, fewer EU residents are expected to come to the UK for work over the next couple of years.

As well as losing international talent, many staff members in the UK haven’t returned from furlough.

The industry is facing a staffing crisis, just as businesses are trying to rebuild and recoup some of the money lost over the past year.

Check out this blog for two solutions to hospitality's staff shortages.

Food prices

Food prices are predicted to rise between 3-5%. While this may not seem like a lot, a rule of thumb in the hospitality industry is a 10% profit margin, so any change will be a big blow to the bottom-line. Especially as businesses are recovering from the economic impact of Covid.

Consumer confidence

While we have seen an initial spike in the number of people dining out since the lockdown restrictions eased. The impending recession threatens to knock consumer confidence.

If the economy is unstable due to the uncertainty around Brexit and Covid, people will spend less disposable income—meaning less dining out. On top of that, as food prices rise, eating out will become more expensive, which could further put people off.


On a more positive note, we’ve seen a rise in the number of ‘staycations’ driven by Covid.

According to a YouGov survey, 44% of Brits said they are keen to take a leisure trip domestically in the next year, and only one in three plan to travel abroad. 73% said they will choose to holiday within the UK, even after Coronavirus travel restrictions have been lifted.

A spike in staycation bookings will prove critical for business recovery, and  hospitality businesses can tap into new opportunities as they expand their domestic client base.

How to reduce the impact of Brexit

The biggest challenge facing the sector is staff shortages. How can operators bridge the gap and retain staff?

Do more with less

With a reduced head office count, you can use digital tools to automate processes and do more with less.

Digital checklists automate tasks, help to get new team members up to speed quickly, and reduce team member’s cognitive load. So teams can spend less time on admin and more time on delivering excellent customer service. And managers can focus on training and building a positive work environment.

Discover how Trail can help you optimise your operations and help you save time.

Communicate clearly

With less staff, no time can be wasted. Your operations need to be as efficient as possible, which means having a system in place that allows you to communicate clearly. Everyone needs to know exactly what to do and how to do it, and management needs to know it’s being done.

Invest in your team

Invest in your teams, and they’ll be more likely to stick around (even in a pandemic or Brexit). You could raise wages, offer training courses or better working conditions.

Show your team that a career in hospitality is exciting—demonstrate the global demand and rewarding opportunities for highly experienced chefs, sommeliers, and bartenders, many of which start in entry-level positions and grow.

For more tips on how to attract and retain talent, check out this article.

Be flexible

Research shows staff are more likely to stay at a workplace that gives them control over how and when they work, yet only 9% of hospitality businesses offer flexible work policies. To stay competitive in the job market, empower employees and give them the flexibility they need.

How Trail can help

In this period of uncertainty, efficiency in operational processes, training, and effective management of teams is key.

Trail helps streamline operations, so managers can focus on the important things—like creating unique customer experiences, and training employees. Here’s how:

  • Empowers teams - Teams are empowered to do their work efficiently; managers are freed up from chasing and can focus on coaching teams.
  • Do more with less - Trail’s digital checklists and forms are designed for speed and simplicity. Everyone is more efficient, so you can do more with less people.
  • Communicate clearly - Trail helps you communicate efficiently and accurately from head office to teams on the ground. Teams know what to do, managers know it’s being done.
  • Better visibility - Managers have real-time visibility, so they can see what’s happening on site, see which team member’s are struggling and focus attention and support where it’s needed most.

McManus Pubs customer testimonial

What customers are saying

"I f****** love Trail, it's taking my businesses to the next level."
Josh Paterson
"We rarely provide training to our guys, they just bought into the idea straight away. I love that I have a full visual of everyone's activity in front of me."
Katrin Toots
Compliance Manager
“It’s not a paper diary that’s covered in barbecue sauce. We have clarity over what’s done in our sites and are confident going into our audits.”
Jay Brown
“The EHO visited almost every site last year and every store was given a five star rating."
Jay Brown
Operations Chef
"We turned our Costa Checks and various compliance forms into regular tasks on Trail, which has contributed to some of the best scores we have had."
Delroy Daniels
Operations Director
"Our teams love it, it gives our managers of all levels absolute clarity on what they need to achieve every day."
James Brown
Operations Director

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