Enam’s editorial

April 21, 2015 No Comments

Looking forward to an exciting year

Happy New Year to all readers! For the first time in a long while its seems that we can all look forward to the year ahead with optimism. All the economic indicators are positive right now and we should see the benefits in time. The chef crisis is still with us, though, and may hold back growth plans.

That said, in the pages of this edition you will read about a number of new ventures, many of them being set up by the younger generation. This gives me cause for confidence that the good times are on their way back, and that the future is in good hands.

There are reports that curry sales from restaurants were well up in the last quarter of 2014, perhaps reflecting the upturn in the economy, the benefits of the Christmas season and the fact that we have enjoyed reasonably good weather conditions. Another factor though behind the booming curry economy was the huge impact in the media of this year’s British Curry Awards.

ITN Research has shown that this generated press and media coverage with a PR value of £48 million! This is an amazing statistic and shows how positive the Awards are for our industry, not just for rewarding excellence and achievement, but in raising the profile of curry restaurants nationally and internationally to help bring customers back through the doors.

The one big negative, as I mentioned, is the shortage of curry chefs. I took the opportunity of the Awards to get this message across to Theresa May, the Home Secretary, asking her for help in bringing in qualified chefs who ‘speak the language of curry.’ I know she listened to our arguments, and promised to go away and think about how this problem might be addressed. Let’s hope we see some action from her on this front, sooner rather than later.

Immigration is sure to be a big election issue, as we approach the General Election this May. Ethnic minorities will be crucial to deciding the future government, All parties seem to be inclined to get ‘tough’ on immigration, including the Conservatives. But is this wise?

Recently some research by a Conservative think tank, Bright Blue, showed that actually most Tory voters want a well-managed immigration system, rather one that stops migrants from coming to the UK altogether. The research also warned that pursuing aggressive policies towards migrants coming to the UK risked putting off ethnic minority Tories who will be an important part of the Conservative Party’s support base in the years ahead. The report showed that Conservative voters are overwhelmingly positive about the contribution immigrants they know make to their local communities, and suggested there is a need for a fair system, rather than a tough one.

The Conservative-led coalition government has been very supportive of the curry sector in many ways over the past five years. The Prime Minister in particular has showed his desire to help us. But the party needs to listen to voices like Bright Blue, and not simply follow the UKIP line and promise a crack-down on immigration. That would alienate many in our community who are natural Conservative supporters, but who are concerned about anti-migrant policies and messages.

The May 2015 election will be very important. Please take the opportunity to vote, whether it is for local councillors or your MP. There is no good complaining afterwards if you don’t vote and someone else gets in!

Another shadow hanging over the curry industry is the ‘copy cat culture’, which is seeing restaurants copying other well established restaurants names; awards springing up, most trying to copy the success of British Curry Awards; and individuals claiming to have won awards which they have not done. This publicity is unwelcome and creates divisions in our industry. We need to be united if we are to achieve our goals and show to Government that we are an industry they have to listen to and take notice of. If we are seen to be at odds with each other, nobody will take us seriously.

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