Business

Millennium & Copthorne struggles to recruit EU staff

A hotel room in Millennium Hotels Chelsea Football Club, London Image copyright Millennium & Copthorne Hotels

Hotel group Millennium & Copthorne has said Brexit uncertainty is making it difficult for its London hotels to recruit EU workers.

The luxury hotel chain said more than half of its workforce in London currently came from the EU.

Its comments came as it said profits fell to £106m last year, a 28% drop from £147m in 2017.

The company also blamed the US-China trade war, minimum wage levels and competition from Airbnb for its woes.

In the fourth quarter of 2018, its profits dropped 76% to £7m.

In its latest results statement, Millennium & Copthorne said: "Concerns about Brexit have affected the Group's UK hotels especially in London, where the hotels started to face difficulties in recruiting EU workers which currently comprise more than half of the London workforce."

It added that its UK business had also been affected by the latest increase in the minimum wage, which has added to costs.

Revenue per available room - a key statistic for the hotel trade - in London dropped 7.4%, although that was partly due to the closure of its Mayfair hotel for refurbishment.

Across the group as a whole, revenue per available room fell to £81.57 last year from £82.78 in 2017.

"The hospitality industry faced a range of geo-political and global economic headwinds in 2018, many of which look set to continue in the current year, including US/China trade relations, Brexit and increasing minimum wage levels in many jurisdiction," said chairman Kwek Leng Beng.

"The shortage of talent - from rank and file to senior management - is intensifying with many new hotels being built around the world, not to mention the growth of Airbnb and serviced apartments."

He stressed that all hospitality businesses would "need to evolve and embrace" changes in the industry in order to remain relevant and profitable.

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