McDonald’s will employ 20,000 people in the UK and Ireland as part of a wider investment boost, despite the damage to the hospitality sector from the pandemic.
Plans to open more than 50 new restaurants over the next year come as the high street continues with a lack of work which has led to increased wages for UK restaurant employees. Both Brexit and the pandemic have prompted overseas workers to leave Britain.
The relaxation of social disengagement rules, which will allow restaurants to incorporate more staff, has paved the way for the recruitment push, the U.S. group said.
Its openings were part of a broader investment plan under which its existing domain would receive an upgrade, including the addition of “Grab & Go” options in areas with a high workforce population. McDonald’s said it would also test more flexible store arrangements.
But Covid-19 has taken a heavy toll though, after several leaks forced places to shut down or sell only takeaway dishes for long periods. Many smaller places have closed and others say they do not anticipate being able to pay rent arrears built during the pandemic.
However, some well-funded companies take the opportunity to expand.
Itsu, the high-end sushi chain, said Sunday it had sold a stake to private equity investor Bridgepoint that would allow it to open 100 outlets and employ an additional 2,000 people in five years. This comes despite the group securing rental cuts in a voluntary agreement with the company last year.
Itsu founder Julian Metcalfe said the group was returning to pre-pandemic levels of customer visits.
“The pandemic has caused chaos and so much suffering in our industry in addition to the imminent challenge of a severe shortage of young European chefs and huge food inflation,” he said. “The truth is, despite these difficulties, Itsu’s modern menu keeps us busy and floating.”
Paul Pomroy, McDonald’s executive director for the UK and Ireland, said: “There is no doubt that the pandemic has had a huge impact on the employment opportunities of many people and has threatened the future of high roads in the country … the moves announced today reflect our commitment to continue to innovate and invest in the local communities and in the economies we serve. ”
McDonald’s operates 1,300 restaurants in the UK under a franchise system, with around 200 local franchisees and 120,000 employees.
The company emerged relatively unscathed from the pandemic, in part because of its delivery and delivery offerings. Comparable global sales are down 7.7 percent in 2020 from the previous year.