A CHESTER business and hospitality expert says hospitality in the city can weather the current national recession.

Steven Hesketh, who this week reopened the Townhouse Hotel on Lower Bridge Street, is urging other business owners in the city not to panic.

He said: "I feel this will be a very short and sharp recession by technicality rather than us 'feeling it'. So, my advice to other hospitality leaders is to not panic! 

"I am quietly optimistic that the recession is likely to be mild and short lived, and that there is still an opportunity for our industry to be buoyant.

"Yes, the reality is that the past couple of months have been quieter and stagnant - and, we know December and New Year's Eve was not as strong as previous years, so this announcement is no surprise, but I believe things are now picking back up.

"And, against this backdrop and noise, I stress that we need to remain steadfast in our venue."

Steven added: "Understanding who we are and what we offer consumers - and make it all about the experience.

"Clearly communicating and setting the tone of why people will want to visit, is key to encourage consumers who are watching their spending to tap into their impulsive desires - offering them experiences they will really value.

"So, don't feel you need to knee-jerk and do sudden offers - I'm actually anti-offers, we need to stick to our guns and be confident and consistent in our offering. 

"Personally, I re-opened one of my hotels in Chester this week, following a full refurb and 200K plus investment, I had predicted a slow start and quiet Valentine's Day.

"However, we have been full every night and this reminded me of how we need to dig deep and be confident in our offering. It's now time to focus on our service and customer experience.

"Surprise and delight is what we always should have been doing, and is now more important than ever. Now is the time to pull our teams together and remind them of our values and expectations."

The UK economy fell into recession at the end of last year as hard-pressed households cut back on spending in response to soaring interest. 

UK gross domestic product (GDP) is estimated to have dropped by 0.3 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2023, following an unrevised fall of 0.1 per cent in the previous quarter.

Steven added: "Yes, people are being cautious and careful with their money, but then that means we need to offer a worthwhile experience.

"Now, more than ever we need to counterbalance the headlines that we are drowning and struggling as an industry and stand proud to show consumers why they should come to our venue - we need to call upon consumers to support the industry - and to make choices around their spending to fuel hospitality."