Older demographic calling the shots

News that the former glamorous London restaurant Le Caprice is to reopen on its original site with previous owner renowned restaurateur Jeremy King has made plenty of headlines and highlighted the myriad glitterati that regularly dined there in the 1980s and 1990s including Princess Diana.

Jesus Adorno, returning legendary Maitre D’ of Le Caprice

In these reports it is clear the real star of the swanky establishment situated close to The Ritz Hotel was its maître d’ Jesus Adorno and his return to the new Le Caprice will be integral to its future success, according to King, who clearly massively values the experience his former front-man brings to running restaurants and keeping everybody happy.

This experience comes with age and at 70-years-old (based on my calculation) he will no doubt be significantly older than the rest of the team when the restaurant opens its doors. Whereas his grey hair would have made him an outlier before the pandemic this is not so much a guarantee today because the shortage of workers in hospitality has led to a drive to recruit from a broader cross section of people – including those with free bus passes.

The days of age-ism are seemingly over and there is thankfully a more inclusive approach being taken to recruitment. According to research from recruiting site Caterer.com in late-2022 as many as 62% of businesses stated they were hiring more inclusively to resolve labour shortages and 25% said older workers would be important. This shift in behaviour has seen the number of people aged 50 and above now accounting for over 25% of the hospitality industry’s approximately 2.2 million


The likes of McDonald’s has run UK advertising campaigns specifically seeking older workers and pub chain Fuller’s has also been proactively targeting the older demographic, having recognised that not only can they fill yawning gaps on the work rota but they also have some attractive skills. Dawn Browne, people & talent director at Fuller’s, says: “People aged 50-plus are a really important talent pool for Fuller’s. We find that our older employees bring valuable skills, wisdom and insight to the table thanks to their years of experience both inside and out of work. Their softer skills, typically honed through years of practice, make them excellent candidates for customer service roles – the lifeblood of the hospitality sector.”

Untapped resource: the older worker

What is helping the likes of McDonald’s, Fuller’s and other enlightened employers is the ongoing growth in the number of older people in the UK now available for work. Many are expecting to work into their 70s, according to Rest Less, which found a 61% increase in the number of over-70s in employment in 2022 compared with 2012. The current cost-of-living crisis is further contributing to the serious pressure on many people’s pension situations. This does not mean there is deep pool of individuals willing to jump into any old hospitality role.

Companies need to better understand the needs of older workers. Having done some work with Rest Less, Fuller’s found that flexible work practices are of the utmost importance to the older grouping with their ongoing juggling of health, family or caring responsibilities alongside a job. “That’s why we’re hoping our flexible shift lengths and work patterns give all of our team members the flexibility they need to live their lives alongside earning an income,” says Brown.

What these older workers also bring is a not particularly secret weapon – an affinity with older customers. Let’s take a moment to consider that among the more mature demographic are many individuals who wield serious spending power. Consider that expenditure by those people aged 65 and over increased by 75% between 2001 and 2018 versus a decline of 16% by those aged 50 and under, according to research from KAM Media. While younger people are either paying increasingly onerous rents or dealing with mortgages that have been affected by rising interest rates the home-owning older grouping have the disposable income to enjoy themselves. They are now calling the shots in hospitality and this trend looks set to continue with older people forecast to account for 63p in every pound spent in the UK economy

by 2040 compared with 54p in 2018.

The Silver Pound is increasingly influential

It seems pretty obvious that the hospitality industry now has to look after the older grouping both as employers and also as customers. This is something that Le Caprice and Adorno will no doubt be fully aware of, and well placed to benefit from, when it throws open its doors in 2024 after its four-year closure.

Glynn Davis, editor of Retail Insider

This piece was originally published on Propel Info where Glynn Davis writes a regular Friday opinion piece. Retail Insider would like to thank Propel for allowing the reproduction of this column.