The hospitality start-up
Michaela Kyriacou CA, Owner-Director, Bean + Brew
I spent four years as a tax adviser with EY but wanted more human interaction, to go into business and see the end product of my work. I spent a year working in coffee bars and Bean + Brew was born in March 2019 after a unit became available in Wood Green, London. My experience as an employee gave me a better appreciation of the day-to-day challenges of the team and has made me a better employer.
After the referendum, there was an immediate weakening of the pound, which increased costs for imported goods and affected the whole supply chain. Then, as the trade deal came into effect, our suppliers experienced delays, with products taking longer to get through customs. Paperwork is time, which also increases costs.
Our industry is powered by migrant workers and Brexit has put a big question mark on their eligibility to work. This uncertainty has contributed to staff shortages that I believe will continue for some time to come. That can affect existing staff and the quality of service provided to customers.
Also, it’s about having resilience. Like so many other businesses, we are struggling, and you need a lot of determination to get through this.
Michaela Kyriacou CA
There are some positives. Pay rises will hopefully plug the labour gap and attract more domestic talent. There is also increasing awareness of how hospitality workers are treated and we’re seeing a shift away from the long-held idea that the work is unskilled. Even if it is just a little shuffle, it’s a move in the right direction.
But then you’ve got Covid-19 and the synchronised shutdown of operations all around the world. It’s a perfect recipe for higher costs, lengthy delays and a staffing crisis, all of which has crushed a lot of people in hospitality.
Broadly, small businesses need more support both from central and local government. We need an extension to the VAT reduction, further support with Bounce Back Loan repayments, and some assistance towards payroll and national insurance contributions.
It’s been almost impossible to do forward planning, but two things that come with being a CA have definitely helped. First is the ability to take a step back and not be bogged down in the moment and immediate problem-solving. Also, it’s about having resilience. Like so many other businesses, we are struggling, and you need a lot of determination to get through this.