Covid-19 experience should bolster F&B sector’s exec recruitment issue, say headhunters


The food and beverage industry should capitalise on its prominence during the Covid-19 crisis to hire top management talent.

That is the view of Russ Metcalf, CEO of Clarico Food Executive Search, which specialises in recruiting food & beverage executive and senior leadership roles.

Metcalf believes the sector has bolstered its image and recruitment prospects as a result of how it has met the challenges of the coronavirus crisis.

The sector’s industry body, the Food & Drink Federation, has identified that its image and profile has been one of the major causes of it failing to recruit the right talent.

However, businesses across the sector can benefit as the industry has shown its ability to adapt to changing customer habits, to innovate and automate and maintain the nation’s food stocks during the crisis.

This increased profile should be seized upon by senior executives and recruitment teams once the crisis eases says Metcalf, to bring in a new wave of managerial talent, which the sector urgently needs.

“The food and beverage sector is one of the most rewarding sectors to work in,” said Metcalf, who has F&B supply chain experience working alongside high profile organisations in the industry.

“The F&B sector has been magnificent during this crisis and it should use that positivity to push on once life begins to return to normal.

“One of the key elements of securing the best talent is being a ‘go to employer’ and there are many companies in the sector that can certainly promote themselves as that.

“The current senior executives across the sector have shown astute leadership, however, this doesn’t hide the fact that it does have issues when it comes to recruiting to key positions that will continue to drive these businesses forward.

“Everyone is aware, the crisis will change the industry and it will need new leaders that will be able to take it forward, to spot opportunities and to drive further innovation.”

Managerial and leadership recruitment is a widespread issue across the UK’s industrial and business landscape according to The Open University Business Barometer Report 2019.

It stated that nearly half (47%) of employers’ report that the last position they struggled to hire for was a senior, intermediate or junior manager, while one in five (20%) had difficulty in filling a leadership role.

As a result, 62% of senior business leaders think that their organisation is not as agile as it needs to be due to a lack of skills.

The report also found that businesses spent £4.4bn in recruitment fees, temporary staffing, increased salaries, and hiring at a lower level.

Metcalf insisted that businesses need to reassess their recruitment strategies and avoid over-spending when it comes to hiring management and leadership roles.

Clarico Food Executive Search has incorporated AI technology, data science and candidate nurturing to deliver high-achieving results for clients.

“Our methods enable us to target the top 15 per cent of talent across the food and beverage sectors and the passive candidate market,” said Metcalf.

“We’re industry leaders in terms of the technology we’re using and recruitment methodology, but we still maintain a dedicated team of consultants as they remain a fundamental key to the whole process.

“Businesses do waste millions whether that is through their recruitment processes or the people they actually end up hiring. We have purposely invested in proven techniques that ensure businesses hire efficiently and can use valuable resources on other areas of their business.”