Can Vending Fill the Labour Gap?
There are stories all over the media these days that cite the difficulties faced by a hospitality industry. As lockdown and furlough comes to an end, many hospitality companies are struggling to find the personnel they need to re-open. And it’s not just fast food outlets.
In London’s Mayfair, for example, La Petite Maison has announced a temporary closure on Sundays and Mondays. Furthermore, Michel Roux Jr, owner of legendary Le Gavroche, announced that his Michelin-starred eatery would reduce its hours to become a dinner-only restaurant.
“Since opening, restaurants up and down the country have suffered greatly with staffing problems partly due to new Brexit regulations as well as there now being a major lack of well-trained hospitality professionals since the pandemic struck,” said Roux, “Whilst we have been working our hardest to resolve this issue over the last couple of months, Le Gavroche is sadly understaffed for the time being.’
If the shortage of staff at the top-end of the industry is an issue, then what’s it like at the other end of the scale? How will staff restaurants, cafés and coffee shops solve their issues? And what impact will the disappearance of EU workers have post-brexit? As the lockdown ends, the consequences of this removal of skilled and experienced people will finally come into focus. Can Vending Fill the Labour Gap?
There’s an interesting article in the Yorkshire Post which suggests that greater use of vending machines may be the answer. The article cites Japan, the country which, as we all know, has the highest density of vending machines of any country in the world. There is approximately one vending machine per 23 people. The five million vending machines in total generate annual sales of more than £50bn. Why is this? Yes, the Japanese have a penchant for technology and enjoy using vending machines to buy anything from a coffee to a comic book. The YP takes a slight different angle, suggesting that the incredible volume of vending machines in Japan has more to do with an increasing labour shortage.
‘Japan has a declining birthrate and low levels of immigration which makes labour scarce and expensive so it is much less labour intensive to visit the vending machines from time to time to make sure they are refilled’ the paper says, adding: ‘Several reports from different sectors in the UK over the past few weeks have highlighted acute staff shortages. Companies face the choice of either paying staff more (although there are only so many potential employees available) or move towards delivery systems less reliant on this decreasing pool of people.’
The incumbent opportunity to grow vending as a retail option in this country is ideally timed. Vending machines, with their connectivity, their payment systems; their ability to engage with customers and their reliability, have never been in a better position to take up the slack. As an industry, that’s the point we need to hammer home, right now. Can Vending Fill the Labour Gap? What’s for sure is that vending can be part of the solution…
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