F&B group values staff who can multitask

Mr Goh, executive chairman of Katrina Group, has not laid off any staff from his company’s 32 restaurants. However, he is encouraging his workers to increase their productivity by taking on additional duties.
Mr Goh, executive chairman of Katrina Group, has not laid off any staff from his company’s 32 restaurants. However, he is encouraging his workers to increase their productivity by taking on additional duties.ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG

One of the bright spots in the job market is the food and beverage (F&B) sector, which still has plenty of job openings.

However, new hires these days will have to learn to be nimble on the job, going by the situation at Katrina Group.

The group owns 32 restaurants, ranging from upmarket ones at Clarke Quay such as RENNthai, Bayang, Hutong and Muchos to casual dining brands such as BaliThai and So Pho.

Each outlet has about 20 employees, and Katrina has not had to lay off any yet.

However, its founder and executive chairman Alan Goh said that monthly revenue at its upmarket brands has fallen by between 10 and 15 per cent with corporate dining spending now down.

And this is where the nimbleness comes in. "We're encouraging multitasking for our front-of-house and back-end staff so they can take on additional duties by helping out in their respective areas of work," said Mr Goh.

"Where previously they were more specialised in their duties, like the kitchen staff preparing ingredients, cooking, checking inventory and washing up, they are now doing a bit more beyond their usual scope of work to increase productivity and skills."

In addition, local staff are occasionally deployed to different outlets to fill gaps and help out during busy periods, said Mr Goh. He noted that foreign workers are limited to their registered place of work.

Labour costs take up a third of the group's revenue. But the company still has to pay attractive salaries to draw workers to the labour-intensive food industry.

For the job seeker willing to multitask, this is what is on offer, according to Mr Goh: "At the entry level, we pay around $1,500 a month to Singaporeans with no F&B experience as service staff.

"It's $1,200 for foreign workers with a minimum of five years' experience."

Geraldine Goh

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 25, 2016, with the headline 'F&B group values staff who can multitask'. Print Edition | Subscribe