Stonegate Pub Company, with the help of Remit Group, is making great strides in boosting chef recruitment across its estate, reducing chef turnover by 32% and increasing food margins by 1.8%, thanks to its back-of-house apprenticeship programme.

In an industry where the chronic lack of chef talent sees as many 20,000 chefs leave the profession each year in London alone, Stonegate is taking full advantage of the Apprenticeship Levy focusing on back-of-house roles and investing in the training and development of its team members with programmes that are worth £5k per person.

Operating more than 700 pubs and bars across the UK, Stonegate has a well-established and award-winning development programme, ‘Albert’s Theory of Progression’, which covers all back-of-house, front-of-house and management roles within the business. Stonegate launched its apprenticeship programme eight years ago to expand the Albert’s Programme.

Jemelle Bish, Apprenticeship Manager at Stonegate explains the decision: “In 2017 when the government levy went live, our apprenticeship provisions were already bedded into the company. However, we used the levy as an opportunity to fine-tune our strategy and used the government changes to create corporate standards. We had already experienced great success with our apprenticeship programme, with more than 2,000 learners achieving their qualification and knowing the success of apprenticeships to our business and we saw this as a real opportunity to turn our focus to a key area of development needed, namely our kitchen workforce of 2,600 employees.”

“The industry as a whole tends to struggle with recruitment and retention when it comes to back-of-house roles. The competition is tough, chefs are always in demand, and a lot of the time they chose alternative roles. The success of the chef apprenticeship programme has been seen at all levels. We have seen a 1.8% improvement in food margin in sites with apprentice chefs on the programme, repaying the apprenticeship levy investment many times over. Not to mention the success we have seen in chef retention too – with chef turnover reducing by 32%.”

Fiona Hawkesley, National Accounts Director at Remit, says: “At Remit we are committed to working with our partners to ensure that benefits from the Apprenticeship Levy can be maximised. We look to become an extension of internal teams to really understand a business and explore  ‘The Art of the Possible’ so we can develop solutions that are fit for both now and the future. It has been very rewarding to work alongside Stonegate in developing their innovative programmes for chefs which have reaped tangible rewards both for the business and for colleagues, and we are very proud to be a key partner in realising these successes.”