Caterer Letters

by News , Monday 28th April 2003 16:19
Statutory registration could bring overall benefits to industry

The Wales Tourism Alliance represents some 70,000 operators in Wales via its member organisations and we have been very closely involved with all the discussions regarding statutory registration ("WTB seeks annual fee for inspections", Caterer, 27 March).

On the question of fees, the report made to the National Assembly for Wales Economic Development Committee in December by Philip Evans, chairman on WTB, said the cost of such a scheme would, initially, be "between £50 and £75 per annum per business, rising eventually to £109 per annum for those not in quality schemes".

The current proposals would therefore be unlikely to involve operators having an additional inspection and charge if they participate in a recognised quality grading scheme, such as those operated by the WTB, AA, RAC, etc.

No doubt many, if not most, of your readers are already involved in one of these schemes and will not have to pay any additional fees in these circumstances. Neither should they have any fears that they will face closure.

If statutory registration (or any alternative proposal) does nothing more than encourage operators to join a quality grading scheme then this surely will be of overall benefit to the industry.

Julian Burrell, Chairman, Wales Tourism Alliance, Cardiff

Discount schemes are unfair to hotel staff

I have always wondered why travel agency and airline staff were entitled to huge discounts in the hotel and airline industries, but hotel staff were not entitled to anything from the airlines (apart from, maybe, stand-by tickets) or to a travel agency discount.

Why is this? Can any reader explain? Caterer should start a petition to change the situation.

Graziano Porcu, Assistant Hotel Manager, Tamarind Beach Hotel & Yacht Club, Canouan Island, St Vincent and The Grenadines

Perry-Smith: a light in a dark 1950s culinary world

You fail to do justice to George Perry-Smith and his genius in your excellent supplement Celebrating 125 years of the industry (Caterer, 3 April) by describing him as an outstanding teacher. He is much more than that.

George was a light in a dark culinary world of the 1950s, when we were emerging from the austerity of the Second World War, and the dreaded brown Windsor soup was commonplace. His drive towards uncompromising excellence and his love and respect for raw ingredients transcend his gift as a teacher.

I worked with him in the kitchens in the early Hole-in the-Wall days (pre-Joyce Molyneux). In times of deep mediocrity, he challenged the norms, ignored the accountants and produced the template from which so much has developed.

George gave the catering world a new, bright vision for the future. The man is under-valued and under-recognised.

David Taylor, Catering Concepts, Grantham, Lincholnshire

Real reason for declining sales at PizzaExpress

Your recent coverage of PizzaExpress (Caterer, 10 April) was very interesting. Back in February (Caterer, 13 February) the reasons given by chief executive David Page for sales being well down in the London area on the same period last year were, among other things, "a collapsing transport system and a pub price war". He also stated that, to combat these problems, PizzaExpress would introduce new menus and larger portions.

I fail to see the link between new menus and larger portions and the collapse in the transport system (which has been collapsing for many years and not just in the last six months) and I also fail to see how a so-called "price war in pubs" (presumably he is referring to JD Wetherspoon and the like) would have an impact on pizza sales.

I suggest to Mr Page that the reason for the decline in sales is because of the excellent job being done by Ask, which has eaten into his market over the last few years with high-quality pizzas, larger portions, and perceived better value.

For some years PizzaExpress has been serving the smallest pizzas of all the major players in the most dated premises. This is widely recognised by consumers, but only now by the management, it seems..

I know it is difficult for chief executives to admit the competition is beating them at their own game, but I suggest that in future Mr Page thinks of more plausible reasons than those he has given.

Ron Zanre, Patron Hotels and Restaurants, Chislehurst, Kent

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