Findings by AlixPartners, in a Foodservice Growth 2022 report, revealed there is much greater confidence amongst the UK hospitality sector that office attendance will get closer to 2019 (pre-pandemic) levels next year.

Three quarters of operators expect 50-75% of people will return to the office in 2023; whereas in the same survey conducted this time last year, only 59% of operators expected offices to be that busy.

Equally, 11% of clients and industry advisors think that office attendance will return to the same levels as 2019 in 2023, whereas last year none of them thought this would happen.

Clearly there is a shift in expectation; although only a few anticipate the same levels of office attendance as 2019, an increase is most certainly expected.

This future gazing – if it turns out to be correct – will be welcome news. Turn the clock back five years and no one in the hospitality industry could have predicted the huge changes that were on the horizon – the pandemic, Brexit, inflation soaring; it’s been a tumultuous and unrelenting period.

For workplace hospitality operators, when employees aren’t in the office, they don’t have a business. It’s as simple as that. Without any footfall, any trade or any people purchasing food and drink, workplace eateries can’t survive.

Thankfully though, there have been countless research papers and surveys that clearly show that the top reasons why employees want to still come into the office is to see their colleagues face-to-face and connect with them – usually over a coffee, lunch or meeting. Hospitality plays an integral role in this and could easily lead to increased footfall on the days when employees are in the office.

In fact, B&I was the sector voted by the hospitality industry in the Foodservice Growth Report 2022 as the sector that is expected to see the strongest recovery in 2023 vs 2022.

Things are starting to look up. They aren’t what they were, but we can be cautiously optimistic. 2023 is about innovation, bringing people together and holding nerves (which are now made of steel!) as the industry rebuilds revenue and strength.

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