The owners of some of the most popular drinking venues in Leeds, including Cuckoo and Mean-Eyed Cat Bar, have weighed in on the current cost of living crisis and their internal strategy to tackle the issue.
As the rising cost of living brings new challenges – both across the country and in the hospitality industry – Escapism Bar Group have confirmed that it is investing in its people with higher wages and the introduction of an inclusive training structure.
UK inflation rates hit a 30-year high in February, and the energy price cap increased by a record 54 per cent from April. Combined with the uplift in national insurance contributions, council tax and travel costs, the country is currently experiencing one of the toughest economic climates in at least a generation.
On average, UK wages have failed to match inflation rates, with figures from The Office for National Statistics (ONS) showing a rise of just 3.8 per cent between November and January.
Flynn Byrne, Training Manager at Escapism Bar Group, said: “In the wake of a global pandemic that brought many hospitality venues to their knees, there’s never been a more important time to double down on creating a supportive, secure environment for team members.
“We introduced an enhanced pay structure at the start of this year, offering under-21s a third more than the national minimum wage, as well as an incentivised salary for certified bartenders. All our wages sit either at or above the UK’s national living wage – and for us, salaries are just the start.
“Escapism’s hiring policy considers personal qualities and skills over traditional CVs, giving people from different backgrounds the opportunity to find a career with us. Once they do, we offer great training opportunities and regular team-building away days.
“Recently we redesigned our development structure, which is proving to be a great success. Our Bar-Back to Boardroom programme offers staff from all walks of life the opportunity to grow within the company. Designed to empower colleagues with the skills they need to take their career to the next level, this structure unlocks new possibilities when it comes to progression.”