Liverpool restaurant boss struggling to find staff after Brexit

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The owner of popular Liverpool restaurant and deli Lunya has said he is struggling to recruit staff after Brexit.

Peter Kinsella, who runs the Spanish business – based in Liverpool City Centre – with his wife Elaine, said he has gone from an 80% Spanish workforce at the beginning of 2017, to just 10% now.

Speaking to Liverpool Council, he said: "One of the big impacts (of Brexit) for us has been the human impact, at the beginning of 2017, 80%of our workforce was Spanish and that's needed in a business that sells Spanish food – we need Spanish staff for authenticity.

"But we've gone from 80% in the beginning of 2017 to just over 10% Spanish staff now.

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"It's made recruitment much, much more difficult – because there isn't this huge pool of experienced and skilled people waiting to work in restaurants – it's a real challenge."

Peter said he is now working to recruit local people for his business.

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Discussing the other challenges the UK's departure from the European Union has caused his business, he said: "Our existence is completely and inextricably linked to Europe and in particular to Spain – because if we don't have those Spanish products, there is no Lunya.

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"We felt the impact the day after the referendum when the exchange rate dropped, immediately we had a 28% cost hike in everything we brought over from Spain and we have been trying to find ways to mitigate against this ever since."

Lunya on Hanover Street

Lunya moved premises in 2017 to a nearby space with large warehouse room above it as Peter and Elaine began importing directly.

He said this has had its benefits, adding: "This gave us an opportunity to make decisions about the products we want to sell. That was really good forced innovation for us and we will continue to do that.

"We are confident that we know what we are doing now, what we have to have on the paperwork now."

The restaurant boss made headlines in March last year when he wrote an emotional open letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson after the government told people to stay away because of the arrival of Covid-19 – but didn't initially order closures.

The move left the hospitality industry in chaos as businesses were left open but with no customers.

The government would go on to announce full closures and a furlough and business support scheme to try and keep businesses afloat and staff paid.

Looking back on that time, Peter – who wrote that he was crying uncontrollably when writing that letter – said things have now turned around dramatically for his business.

He said: "We were convinced we were going under, now I think we have the brightest future I have known. The pandemic has actually brought more people into the deli and we have this fantastic online trade now.

"We are confident with the support we get now that we will be able to grow.

"We love what we do and just want to be around to enjoy that for many years."

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