The chief executive of the Brewhouse & Kitchen pub chain has said it will be vital to have a free flow of migrant workers into the UK after Brexit.
Kris Gumbrell, the Bournemouth man who co-founded the fast-expanding independent business, is concerned about the effect a “no deal” exit from the EU would have on the trade.
A recent report by KPMG for the British Hospitality Association found that nationals of the other EU countries make up more than 75 per cent of waiting staff and 43 per cent of the “low skilled” workforce in hospitality.
Home secretary Sajid Javid recently announced that existing UK residents from other parts of the EU would have to answer three “simple” questions online if they wanted to stay.
Mr Gumbrell said the government was “thinking in the right way” but he wanted to be sure the system would work.
“There are hundreds of thousands of people who contribute money to the economy, pay their taxes and are business critical for our sector – but they’ve also got requirements in the NHS, manufacturing, retailing and production,” he said.
“It’s a good start. It will need to be thought through a lot better and it does need to work. Government-sponsored IT projects don’t seem to have a great track record.”
Brewhouse & Kitchen has 21 pubs across the country, 16 of which have opened in the past two years. Locally, it has pubs in Poole, Bournemouth, Southbourne and Dorchester.
Mr Gumbrell said the sector had to “work hard to attract young people”, but it was important to have a free flow of labour.
“We could widen the net to say, quite rightly, that being a free market economy we could bring people in from all over the world,” he said.
“The reality is the market requires skilled people but also people prepared to do the jobs sometimes British people don’t want to do.”
He said his business sought to offer incentives to staff, including making sure they receive 100 per cent of their tips. “It’s not about pay. It’s about sheer shortage of people in that particular sector,” he said.
An event at Bournemouth University recently heard that Dorset’s tourism industry was facing a recruitment crisis, with supply of job applicants at an “all time low”.
Andy Woodland, vice-chairman of the Bournemouth Area Accommodation and Hotel Association, said there had been a severe drop in the number of mainland Europeans seeking work locally since the vote to leave the EU.