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Sip & Strategise: Adapting to Challenges with Insights in 2024

As we dive into 2024, the restaurant world faces a mix of challenges and opportunities

As we dive into 2024, the restaurant world faces a mix of challenges and opportunities, all laid out in the recent Friday Opinion from Propel Hospitality newsletter featuring Ann Elliott, Glynn Davis, Alastair Scott, and Isabelle Shepherd. Let’s break down their insights and explore practical strategies for restaurant leaders:

1. “Support Your Neighborhood Pub” – Ann Elliott

Neighborhood pubs, especially the independent ones, tackle specific issues in January—less customers and higher operational costs, made worse by the popularity of ‘Dry January.’ (According to Alcohol Change UK, over 6.5 million adults plan to participate this year, up from 3.9 million last year). Ann’s insight emphasises the need to strengthen community ties for lasting business.


  • Community Engagement: Build local partnerships, host events, and establish loyalty programs to create a strong community bond.
  • Affordability and Simplicity: Prioritise cost-effective offerings and a straightforward experience to attract a broad audience.
  • Digital Presence: Use online platforms to reach a wider local audience and share special promotions.

Ann Elliott (she/her) is a portfolio non-executive director and board advisor.

2. “The Breal Deal” – Glynn Davis 

Breal Group’s acquisition strategy, especially in distressed breweries and restaurants, mirrors an industry trend. While consolidation brings opportunities, the challenge lies in transforming acquired entities into sustainable, profitable businesses. Brexit has significantly impacted the UK hospitality industry, particularly in staffing due to new restrictions for EU citizens.

Navigating post-Brexit recruitment challenges:

  • Hold onto existing staff: Investigate ways to retain existing European staff with settled status.
  • Widen your recruitment net: Target new demographics like parents returning to work, retirees, and office workers seeking a change.
  • Be flexible: Adapt to the evolving working environment with flexible schedules.
  • Back industry initiatives: Support initiatives promoting hospitality as a great place to work, aiding in overcoming recruitment challenges.


  • Synergy Assessment: Prioritise acquisitions aligned with existing market channels and complementing the overall brand portfolio.
  • Operational Efficiency: Identify areas for process simplification and optimisation within acquired businesses without compromising quality.
  • Market Diversification: Explore new revenue streams within the acquired brands, such as expanding offerings or tapping into untapped markets.

Glynn Davis is a leading commentator on retail trends.

3. “Closing in January” – Alastair Scott

Alastair Scott’s rationale for temporary closures in January is rooted in financial prudence. Calculating daily marginal profit becomes pivotal in deciding whether to close, reduce costs, or invest in growth during slow periods.


  • Financial Analysis: Regularly assess the cost-benefit of staying open during off-peak periods.
  • Operational Refresh: Utilise closed periods for improvements, maintenance, and team-building activities.
  • Adaptive Scheduling: Experiment with flexible schedules, alternating closures between locations to maintain customer accessibility.

Alastair Scott is chief executive of S4labour and owner of MALVERN INNS LTD.

4. “Attracting and Retaining Talent” – Isabelle Shepherd

The persistent staffing crisis in the hospitality sector necessitates creative retention strategies. Isabelle Shepherd highlights the impact of the upcoming national living wage increase on payroll costs.


  • Diverse Benefit Packages: Beyond competitive salaries, introduce diverse benefits such as pension salary exchange and well-being initiatives.
  • Tax-Efficient Solutions: Explore tax-efficient benefit schemes maximising advantages for both employees and the business.
  • Future Workforce Planning: Anticipate and adapt to the evolving expectations of the younger workforce by tailoring benefits accordingly.

Isabelle Shepherd is a director at hospitality specialist accountants and tax advisors haysmacintyre .

In addressing these hospitality challenges, our commitment at Syrve UK is to provide an innovative SaaS platform, empowering restaurants with data-driven insights, operational efficiency, and adaptability. Let’s continue to thrive together.

Newsletter Source: Propel Weekend Roundup (mailchi.mp)