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TOUGH TIMES MEANS MORE DEMAND FOR PROCUREMENT BUSINESSES

The industry is very tough at the moment, with labour costs and the quality of labour available being at the forefront of the challenge. The continuing difficulties facing the industry mean more and more businesses are turning to procurement specialists like RPG to help achieve significant savings, and RPG is having to expand in order to help meet that demand.

We are recruiting nine new team members in 2019, six field-based and three office-based. Three people are due to start in the first week of January, and we’ll be looking to recruit the other six later in the year.

We are 20% up year-on-year, in what has been a difficult trading year for members, so this is a very pleasing result with a part of this is due to the fact that RPG is one of very few purchasing groups that has expertise in both food and drink. With most similar businesses focusing predominantly in food, this has led to us experiencing a significant increase in businesses contacting us on the drinks side of the business.

We’ve also had new members join the group from other industries, such as the care and education sectors, who have identified the need to operate streamlined businesses as essential in today’s tough commercial environment.

In March RPG warned that 2018 could be the toughest year for at least a decade for Britain’s pubs and restaurants, due to new levels of taxation, the minimum wage, exchange rate, insurance premium tax and the Brexit effect. The first few months of the year saw a significant number of closures, with the likes of the Prezzo Group, Strada and Jamie’s Italian each shutting one third of their restaurants in a bid to streamline the business and balance the books.

The fortunes of the industry have certainly blown hot and cold this year, with an extended cold snap, coupled with an early Easter all of which presented challenges.

This was then followed by the sunniest and hottest May on record, with two blistering Bank Holidays as well as a Royal Wedding and an FA Cup Final However, the summer weather also threatened price rises, as farmers were forced to feed livestock winter food because the usual grazing grass had not re-grown due to so little rain.

The summer also adversely affected indoor attractions such as soft play, cinemas and bowling outlets, who had suffered during the periods of heavy snowfall because customers could not get to them and suffered in the good weather because people wanted to stay outdoors.

Crops were wilting in the heat – and because there was a shortage of seasonal migrant workers to harvest them, because the exchange rate made the UK far less attractive than usual to the eastern European workforce who have traditionally helped get produce from the fields to the stores.

The prolonged cold and hot spells also affected yields, with the amount of potato crops being up to 40 percent lower than expected.

2019 is set to be equally challenging with huge uncertainty still looming over the impact of Brexit, and procurement businesses facing ever-increasing demand for their services. Earlier in the year national accountancy group UHY Hacker revealed that a third of the UK’s top 100 restaurant groups were making a loss, an increase of 75 per cent on the previous year.

With little hope of foreseeable respite, more and more restaurants are turning to procurement groups to help keep their outgoings down.

Regency is particularly well-placed to be able to respond to the demands of the industry because our family-run enterprise doesn’t just include the procurement group, but we also own and operate our own sites within the industry, so we have practical and hands-on expertise, because we are experiencing, and striving to overcome, the same challenges as our clients.

We’ve also designed and built a unique IT system that offers new internal monitoring tools to help us track market trends and monitor suppliers. There is also a customer-facing part that shows our members invoices from all the suppliers they use through Regency, monitors prices and checks that the invoices are charging the correct prices, this system can run several reports, like supplier spends and product purchase reports. With it still being continuously improved, early next year we will be adding our allergen and nutrition section, which includes menu spec sheets, which will ensure all our members are compliant in this area.

Here is what some of our team had to say about working for Regency –

Tristan Jones “It’s a great working environment and a chance to work with some of the brightest and best in the food and beverage world. My time at Regency so far has been a real eye-opener to what can be achieved to support operators in today’s changing environment. I can’t recommend RPG highly enough.”

Nikki Loxton added: “You couldn’t work for a better employer.”

If you think you would like to be part of the Regency team, visit www.regencypurchasing.co.uk or call 01934 646 135.