Disaster averted on our streets

30 November 2006 by
Disaster averted on our streets

It's probably fair to say that having the world's press discover traces of radioactive materials in your business does not make for the most positive publicity story.

Unfortunately for the companies involved, this is exactly what happened this week when sushi restaurant Itsu and the nearby Millennium hotel, both in London, were implicated in the fatal poisoning of an ex-KGB officer.

The story may have seemed more Le Carré than Larousse, but it did bring to light the importance of having sound business continuity and publicity management policies in place.

Do you have a clear idea of what you would do if a PR nightmare stuck your business? Would you know what to say to the press - and who would say it - if an outbreak of food poisoning was traced back to your kitchens? And what if your hotel was named and shamed in an illegal workers scandal?

If you don't have answers to these questions, perhaps it's time you did a little disaster management planning.

On a brighter note, a year ago the industry was full of gloom in anticipation of the changes to the licensing laws. The fear was that extended licensing hours would lead to binge-drinking, overworked and overtired bar staff and increased fighting in our pubs and on our streets.

But one year on and all seems relatively calm, with news that the drinking habits of pub-goers appear to be changing - and for the better.

The shift has been positive for the good old local boozer, with nearly a quarter of people surveyed in a YouGov poll stating that they are now more likely to stay in their local pub than travel into towns or city centres to continue drinking. Among younger drinkers - the 18- to 29-year-old age group - this figure rises to more than a third.

So, in spite of suggestions that our streets would turn into a brawling ground for a nation of alkies, people now feel under less pressure to drink quickly and are enjoying a more Continental approach to going out. Salute!

Mark Lewis, Editor, Caterer and Hotelkeeper

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