The Restaurant Association, along with other members of the business community, met with new Prime Minister, Chris Hipkins yesterday morning for the first time to discuss the impact of flooding on North Island hospitality businesses.
Marisa Bidois, CEO of the Restaurant Association of New Zealand said the meeting, which lasted approximately an hour was “constructive and positive” and it was clear that the Prime Minister was aware of a lot of the challenges faced by the business community, which was encouraging to see.
The Restaurant Association raised immediate priorities with the Prime Minister:
Business communication – Ensuring that the message around staying at home is followed with strong messages around when it is ok to come out again.
Clear communications around road closures and the length of time for repair were also discussed as vital to getting businesses back up and running again.
Business support – cash flow in the hospitality industry is severely impacted by a downturn of customers or business closure. In the case of the floods 75 per cent of respondents to a Restaurant Association survey had experienced a downturn in revenue since the floods. For an industry still recovering from the impacts of the pandemic this presents further cash flow challenges.
Reviewing planned policy – there is enormous financial pressure on businesses at the moment and reviewing some of the upcoming regulatory changes would be welcomed by businesses. Parking the minimum wage increases set for this year would go some way to supporting businesses dealing with skyrocketing costs; delaying the Fair Pay Agreements process and other policy directing impacting businesses could assist with easing some of the pressure on these businesses.
International communication – ensuring our international communities understand that New Zealand is open for business. We need more messaging calling for workers showing how great it is to work here. We are currently facing a severe skills shortage and competing with other markets for workers.
Immigration policy – Being able to access the labour needed to run our business is imperative to ongoing stability in the industry.
Other issues discussed included interruptions to the supply chain causing shortages of food, insurance contracts not covering financial downturns or damage due to natural disasters along with exponential price increases.
“The continued rain throughout January which culminated with the floods has come at the very worst time for hospitality businesses, many of whom are still trying to recover from the effects of the pandemic,” said Marisa Bidois.
“The summer months are traditionally a bumper time for hospo, particularly the Auckland Anniversary and Waitangi weekends.
“We’ve been taking calls all week from members looking for support and targeted communication to help them work through the situation and get back and running again.”
“I’m pleased to report that the prime minister was extremely open and receptive to our suggestions and I’m looking forward to working with him and his senior ministers on the important issues facing our industry,” concluded Bidois.