Commercial food grinder
Hiring for customer-facing roles in sales and commercial operations as well as other divisions is gaining momentum across hospitality and retail sectors on the back of rising demand and bullish outlook for the upcoming festive season.
Hiring is picking up across restaurants and hotels given revenge spending and expansion plans of chains through new outlets and inventories.
“Ahead of the festive months, we see a shortage of staff for roles in customer service and kitchens. Since the unlocking in March, recovery has exceeded pre-Covid levels in many instances and now that the festive season is around the corner, demand and consumption are expected to increase even further,” said Kabir Suri, president of National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) that represents more than 500,000 restaurant operators.
“There is a talent crunch as many workers had lost their jobs during Covid-19 and went back home or changed their profession,” Suri added. “Many (restaurateurs) are now training raw talent which is a lengthier process. We are also simultaneously looking at other industries such as retail, or anything that is customer facing.”
Retailers are also feeling the pinch of reverse migration that happened during Covid-19.
“Many of them never came back. This led to a shortage of staff across segments in the retail industry as it requires a special skill set where the attitude is very important,” said Kumar Rajagopalan, CEO, Retailers Association of India (RAI). “Because retailers are witnessing growth in sales, hiring has also picked up at every level and this will continue till the festive season.”
Rajagopalan said hiring in the retail industry may cross pre-pandemic levels by the end of this year.
Nikhil Sharma, regional director for Eurasia at Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, said the company is currently expanding its commercial team and is hiring a head of sales and marketing in India, besides expanding its global sales team by adding additional resources in Bengaluru.
Arif Khan, regional vice president – human resources at Hyatt, said the hotel chain is on an “exponential growth journey” in India and that the company is hiring people across roles and departments in the commercial function.
“One of the major changes brought about by the pandemic was the digitisation of businesses, and therefore we introduced new positions in the digital and social media departments,” Khan said. “We have also created new positions in sales in order to target particular markets and segments as we continue to expand across India and in Southwest Asia. Additionally, we are also consolidating our cluster setups spread all over the country to improve functional efficiency across locations.”
Neha Rana Dutta, chief human resources officer at Espire Hospitality Group, said the company currently has around 500 people but the numbers will ‘comfortably double’ by the end of 2022-23.
Espire Hospitality, which owns luxury resort ‘Six Senses Fort Barwara’ and mid-market resort chain Country Inn Hotels and Resorts, had in April said it will launch a new luxury boutique resort brand ‘Zana’ in India.
“We shall have 11 operational hotels and resorts across brands by the end of 2022 and should be able to achieve our goal of 20 operational hotels and resorts in India, by 2023,” Dutta said. “The hiring approach is aggressive, but this is mostly to combat the positive pressure of the new openings scheduled this year. The first resort of our new brand Zana Lakeside Resort, Udaipur opens in September,” she added.
Yogeshwar Sharma, chief executive of Select Citywalk, one of the most popular malls in New Delhi, said hiring has definitely picked up as new malls are coming up. “Since the leasing has also picked up with more brands looking for expansion, malls have to strengthen the sales team,” he added. Mukesh Kumar, chairman of Shopping Centres Association of India (SCAI) said malls are back to 100% staffing levels but there is a shortage of people, especially at the lower levels. “We are hiring people wherever required but there is a scarcity of manpower, he added.
Rajan Bahadur, chief executive officer of Tourism and Hospitality Skill Council (THSC), promoted by Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) to help fill skilling gap in tourism and hotel industries, said hiring is on an uptick across levels in the hospitality industry because of revenge tourism and spending, and also because of new supply coming in.
“A lot of restaurants had closed down during the Covid-19 pandemic, but with spending coming back, chains have expansion plans and quite a few new restaurants are opening now,” he said. “We are also looking at training people for new roles in adventure tourism or food photography.”
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