Hospitality costs rocketing, says Liverpool restaurateur

As a report from MPs outlines how businesses are struggling post-pandemic, Liverpool restaurateur Paul Askew reveals his battles against rising costs and staff shortages. Tony McDonough reports

Paul Askew
Paul Askew chef patron at The Art School restaurant says he is battling rising costs and staff shortages


Liverpool chef restaurateur and restaurateur Paul Askew says soaring food costs and staff shortages are stifling the hospitality’s sector’s recovery from the pandemic.

Paul, the owner of the The Art School restaurant in Liverpool city centre, says the costs of some food items are as much as 30% higher. He adds the sector is struggling to replace the people who left during the COVID-19 pandemic.

He was speaking as Parliament’s Treasury Committee published its new report on Jobs, Growth and Productivity after Coronavirus. Produced by a cross-party committee of MPs, the report criticises the Government’s “chop and change” strategy for delivering long-term growth.

It says the number of job vacancies across the country has hit a record 3m. This, the report adds, was mainly driven by workers aged 55-64 who retired early or had to leave due to long term illnesses.

MPS said the Government should prioritise addressing skills gaps to ease labour shortages. LBN has reported previously how there had been an exodus of staff from the Liverpool city region hospitality sector.

In May we reported how bars were struggling to recruit door staff. And Delifonseca Dockside  founder Candice Fonseca also said she was having to manage around a shortage of skilled workers. She urged young people to consider careers in the hospitality sector.

Paul Askew says there is a degree of positivity and a return to normality in the local sector with demand returning. But he added rising prices and staffing costs was a major issue for most businesses.

He explained: “Our recovery has been very encouraging in many ways in terms of demand and people’s desire to eat out and regain some sense of normality in the summer.

“At The Art School in Liverpool, we have seen bookings return and people are planning ahead again with some confidence and the city’s hospitality sector remains busy.


Candice Fonseca
Candice Fonseca, founder of Delifonseca in Liverpool


“The challenges however remain enormous. The rising costs of utilities, ongoing food supply issues due to the supply chain being damaged, staff shortages due to the resurgence of COVID and the overall residual impact of Brexit are not going away. 

“It’s a long and very bumpy road ahead for tens of thousands of restaurants, bars, hotels and pubs across the UK. We are navigating the impact of the pandemic and the countless skilled staff who have left the industry and will not return.”

On rising inflation and the cost of living crisis, he added: “These are affecting pretty much the entire UK in one way or another. One impact in hospitality is the spiralling cost of ingredients.

“We have seen raw ingredients like rare breed beef and lamb and wild fish increase by as much as 30% if you can get the volume to buy them in the first place.

“College enrolments are way down so the supply chain of new, young staff into the sector is also massively under threat. The industry needs new recruits and the last two-and-a-half years have severely impacted the next generation of chefs, managers, bartenders and front of house staff.”

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