Education, Inspiration, Dragons and Networking

The transfer of knowledge and experience is key to the success of any business. To network and share can be inspirational.

cpg_pjea_gradpress_21 Spooners have been invited recently to actively engage with and support several key places of learning. To motivate and educate the young aspirational entrepreneurs is both invigorating and rewarding.

Firstly, Bournemouth & Poole College. The Peter Jones Enterprise Academy is an integral part of this excellent college and the team strive to make it an experience and an education for the students rather than just a course. By being student centred and committed to everyone meeting his or her aspirations, time on the course is challenging, inspirational, life-expanding and fun.

With the help of inspirational tutors and a huge range of business speakers, visits and opportunities, the team also help in the personal development of each student, working on confidence, self-belief, education, communication and networking skills.

The uniqueness of this programme is achieved through sharing high expectations and a mutual respect among students, staff and business partners. The Academy provide first class facilities, resources and encouragement to allow their students to believe and achieve and Spooners are delighted to be able to assist. Spooners will mentor, motivate, moderate and enjoy being a Dragon at the end of the course.

Secondly, the Bournemouth University invited Spooners to ‘lecture’, to workshop, with the new MBA recruits and to explain the importance of establishing and maintaining professional links with the local community. See the Local Links presentation here. The Bournemouth MBA is the tailored course for professionals seeking core business and management expertise before extending into one of many several specialisms.  The students are multi-national and highly motivated to succeed.

An excellent example of knowledge transfer occurred recently. A client requested the support of the final year MBA students to ascertain the value and methodology of taking a business to franchise. The five reports and presentations that followed were all excellent and considerable mutual value was extracted from this constructive approach.

It can be beneficial to the individual, the student, the business, the businessman and the institutions to share information, ideas and knowledge. Pick up the phone to your local network groups, colleges and universities and collaborate. Your business and you will benefit.




The Tipping Controversy

The Tipping Controversy: The hospitality industry is almost unique in anticipating and / or expecting its staff to be additionally rewarded tips by its customers. This in addition to the purchase of food, drink and accommodation.

This is an historical reward and one that the general public acknowledges, but remains bemused and abused by the inconsistency of its delivery. There are many mixed messages. ‘12.5% will be added to your bill for tables of five and above’; ‘Service is at your discretion’; ‘All tips are shared between our staff, thank you’; ‘10% will be added to your bill’; ‘Service charge is not included’……….but we expect some recognition?

Those in the industry such as the independent restaurateur, hotelier and national restaurant chain operator are equally confused as to the correct and legal interpretation. There is no one fair and well-defined solution that serves all four parties well to the tipping controversy – the customer, the staff, the business owner and in the UK, the HMRC.

The Tipping Conundrum:

  • Every employee expects a fair wage, one that recognises hard work, skills and qualifications.
  • Every business is obliged to account and pay to HMRC all taxes and this includes the NI element of the wages and service charges collected.
  • The business if it ‘handles’ the service element of any income i.e. it simply banks the credit card payment together with the tip, must account for this element in Income Tax and NI and distribute it fairly between its employees.
  • For this administration there is a cost and this must be extracted from the ‘service’ income. It is this conundrum that is controversial. Just how much should the business owner / operator extract to cover their costs?

A Fair Tipping Solution:

  • The business should always pay at least the Minimum Wage and ‘service charges’ must not be a part of this.
  • If a business invites their customers to pay a service charge then either the customer-facing team must operate a Tronc system as advised by HMRC or the business owner must account for all taxes. The Tronc scheme shares out in pre-agreed proportions the service charge element and NI is accounted for independently.
  • If tips are freely given and are not requested by the Business owner in their literature then the owner ought never to get involved with taking or managing cash tips. The employees must be warned however that they must declare to HMRC independently, their additional cash earnings if outside of any Tronc scheme for Income Tax purposes.
  • The issue of credit card tips remain an issue. The costs to the business of administration must be covered but the fee must always be set low at a point at which the business does not profit. Service charges must be for the sole benefit of the hospitality team.
The Tip Solution

Thanks for the Tip

For further guidance refer to document E24 (2015) at but any fine hospitality business will know that high staff morale ensures good service which in turn improves the customer satisfaction, staff retention and business security.




Food Hygiene in the News

Food Hygiene in the News – Is your training manual up to date?

An Indian restaurant owner was recently charged with manslaughter. A customer was reported to have died after eating food prepared at the restaurant.

Paul Wilson, who had a severe allergy to peanuts, died in January last year after suffering an anaphylactic reaction having eaten a takeaway from the Indian Garden restaurant in Easingwold, north Yorkshire.

The bar manager died in the bathroom of the Oak Tree pub in Helperby, near Thirsk, where he worked.

His death sparked an investigation by the Food Standards Agency into the substitution of peanuts and almonds for more expensive cumin.

Now the Crown Prosecution Service has announced that the Indian Garden restaurant owner Mohammed Khalique Zaman has been charged with manslaughter by gross negligence.

The Lesson – The salutary lesson to be learned is –  what you say and describe on the menu must be in the menu. Any substitutes for whatever reason must be communicated to the team and to the diner. Every customer-facing employee must know the contents of each dish. If there is any doubt do not serve the dish.

The Food Standards Agency

For further information on hygiene training relating to your business visit

Film Studios – Film Talent and the Bafta’s

Bafta 2015

Bafta awards 2015


Last night at the Bafta Awards ceremony, ‘The Theory of Everything’ with Eddie Redmayne as an enigmatic Stephen Hawking scooped three awards,  and ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ won five Baftas, with Ralph Fiennes giving an absolute gem of a performance. Jack O’Connell was identified as the rising star and Stephen Beresford and David Livingstone scooped the Outstanding Debut for Director / Producer award. All heartening accolades for the UK film industry and for the UK film studios.

Last week the British Film Institute released statistics detailing the the total amount of film and television production in the UK for the past year. £1.5bn was infused into the UK economy as a result. “Today’s record breaking figures show our production industries are thriving and London is at the very heart of that success,” says David Parfitt, Chairman of Film London. “The city’s status as a global production hub sees it acting as gateway to the rest of the UK, delivering for the economy and creating thousands of jobs.”

With approximately 75% of the UK’s film production industry based in and around London, roughly £1bn of that feature film spend was invested in the capital, thanks to its world-class crew and state-of-the-art facilities.

The High-end Television Tax relief – in place since 2013, and the Film Tax Relief – is attracting a high number of big budget productions to London. Television production spend across the UK reached £615m in 2014, a significant percentage of which was spent in the capital. Londoners might be surprised to learn that Downton Abbey, The Royals and the new Fortitude crime series based theoretically in the Arctic Circle, used London as a backdrop as did the ‘Theory of Everything‘, ‘The Imitation Game’ and many more.

There is a revolution in filmmaking taking place. The digital age and global awareness has created an enormous demand for content. Companies operating in the UK such as Sky, Netflix, Virgin, BT and Amazon are buying up rights to broadcast and stream content around the world. Netflix alone expect to invest $3bn this year on media content.

The arrival of the big USA studios, our creative success on the world stage, the demand for UK talent, our seemingly natural creative talents in animation, visual effects, in post-production and indeed, the English language, are creating a huge demand for state of the art facilities and for studio space.

A series of blockbusters where London and its environs play a fundamental role like Avengers: Age Of Ultron, Mission Impossible 5 and the latest James Bond film Spectre, all draw on London’s world-class locations, facilities and expertise. Elsewhere, studios just outside the capital have hosted the next, hotly-anticipated instalment of the Star Wars saga, along with some big budget childhood story adaptations including Pan, Tarzan and Cinderella.

The thought remains –  how does the UK Film, TV, Video and Gaming industry ensure the UK captures, retains and profits from this high-appeal, high-growth market? Significant and targeted investment in training and infrastructure is certainly required and the continued support of the Government through tax reliefs to attract personal and corporate investors remains a must.

UK Film Studio demand

Film Studio from 1923


Allergies and Dining out – how safe is it?

Food allergies

Dining Out – How safe can we make it?

The old adage, ‘buyer beware’ still holds true for all of us purchasing and consuming foodstuffs from an ever increasing range of commercial food outlets, be they roadside, Vietnamese, Mongolian, Burger or supermarket. It is reassuring to know that the entire food chain from seed to plate is strongly governed by a plethora of legislation that covers food production, labelling, packaging and much more.

However, the hospitality industry, as an end-user of this supply chain, under legislation introduced in December 2014 requires all food-handlers and service staff in the hospitality industry to be thoroughly ‘educated’ on the allergens that naturally occur in our foodstuffs and to be aware of the allergies that develop.

It is estimated that 1-2% of adults and 5-8% of children have food allergies. This equates to around 2 million people living in the UK with a food allergy and this figure does not include those with food intolerances. This means the actual number of affected people living with food allergy and/or food intolerance is considerably more.

The Food Standards Agency states that “An allergic reaction can be produced by a tiny amount of a food ingredient that a person is sensitive to (for example a teaspoon of milk powder, a fragment of peanut or just one or two sesame seeds). Symptoms of an allergic reaction can range from mild symptoms such as itching around the mouth and rashes; and can progress to more severe symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhoea, wheezing and on occasion anaphylaxis (shock). Around ten people in the UK die from allergic reactions to food every year”.

There is no cure for food allergy. The only way to manage the condition is to avoid food that makes the person ill. As a consumer, this can be achieved by checking the ingredients details on labels of prepacked foods and asking food handlers for the allergen ingredients information on non-prepacked foods. The onus is now on the front line of the food service industry to be fully aware of what they are serving and advise, if asked, if it is safe for consumption by the allergy-intolerant consumer. All food businesses from January 2015 must provide clear and accurate information about allergenic ingredients in their products.

Let both the buyer and seller beware.