We recently hosted our latest boardroom lunch at our London Office for Chairmen, NEDs, CEOs and Investors from the Leisure, Hospitality & Travel sector. Guests included board members from Casual Dining Group, Priceline Group, Greggs, British Hospitality Association, SSP Group Plc, Vital Ingredient, The Restaurant Group, TUI, Disneyland Resort Paris and Barburrito.

We’ve had a year of surprises; from Brexit in the UK, Trump in the US, and even Leicester City winning the Premier League! With so much volatility over the past 12 months, the conversation steered towards the impact of some of those surprise decisions and the outlook over the next 12 months.

Brexit Impact Not Felt Yet

The consensus was that no one had seen any seismic changes yet from Brexit. A CEO of a large digital business who operates a sizable global contact centre in the UK covering multiple languages said that with the recent vote, they would not be able to get the volume of people required in the years ahead. He had no choice therefore but to open new regional hubs in mainland Europe. With immigration levels falling this/next year, he will have to take a similar approach for digital talent, particularly engineers and designers. Ultimately the result will mean employing less people in the UK and the export of more jobs overseas.

The CEO of another organisation commented that as well as affecting the mood of the country (positively or negatively depending on your perspective), the recent devaluation of the pound had made the UK a less attractive place to work because of increased living costs, in real terms, for foreign workers. This would not only reduce the talent pool but also potentially drive migrants out of the country, creating real supply problems for many in the hospitality sector.

The Coming Tsunami That Is Inflation

Several CEO’s and Chairmen commented on the potential tsunami of rising inflation, increased rates and wages due to hit next year. Those within the hospitality sector were preparing for the public backlash as food/drink prices continue to rise. Price hikes for customers were already happening with the obvious negative impact on demand.

Controlling The Controllable

With all the hullabaloo of Brexit and the US elections, there was a more important message of not getting too distracted by the macro “noise”. There was a need to develop plans to mitigate the impact of external factors, yet the focus should remain on “controlling the controllables” in your organisation. Ensuring the Board and team is clear on the strategy and which battles to engage in, and to concentrate with clinical precision of those areas that will make the biggest impact on short and mid-term performance.

One CEO spoke of a successful turnaround he has delivered in the last few years, aided by some favourable fair winds. He made the observation that in the months ahead, he expected these to turn in to strong headwinds so was preparing his business accordingly.

A Sunny Outlook?

The general mood for next year was one of cautious optimism for some, careful pragmatism. The fundamentals of “get the big decisions right” are holding true. Priorities of aligning the business, focusing all of the organisation’s energy on the delivery of these objectives, creating a culture of restlessness/continuous improvement, being open-minded and embracing change are how these senior leaders are preparing for whatever the next 12 months will hold.

What Next?

Our most recent event was the last for 2016, in what has been a very successful series of events. We would like to thank our guests including senior representatives from:
TUI, Casual Dining Group, Royal Caribbean, Byron Hamburgers, Saga Holidays, Krispy Kreme, OnTheBeach, Love Holidays, Aramark, Compass, Big Bus Tours, Burger King, Dnata, Brasserie Blanc, Punch Taverns, Prezzo, Paul, Sodexo, Jumeirah Hotels, RCI/ Wyndham, JAC, Advent, Electra, CVC, LDC, Kings Park Capital, Houlihan Lokey.

Due to capacity and to keep conversations personal and intimate, our boardroom events can only hold a select number of people. If you would like to register your interest in attending a future event, then please get in contact with my EA Hayley Williams on hwilliams@savannah-group.com, or on +44 (0) 203 781 7445

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