A popular local pizza chain has had to close its St Helier outlet, citing Population Office "constraints" as the cause.
Pizza Quarter, which opened in Bel Royal in 2009 and has since expanded to Grève d’Azette and Gorey, says it was forced to close its St Helier branch last week.
The management have since hit out at the migration regulation department, stating that their clampdown has unfairly disadvantaged the business, despite its continual efforts to improve the Island.
Pictured: The full sign, as displayed outside Pizza Quarter, St Helier.
In a full-window notice, the pizza venue, which is owned by Salt Limited, who also own ‘The Kiosk’ on Victoria Avenue, informed customers:
“It has regrettably become necessary to temporarily suspend service from Pizza Quarter – St Helier.
“This is in order to staff the other Pizza Quarter beachside locations during the summer season.
“Team PQ would like to thank you for your continued support over the years as our local Jersey Pizza Delivery company, please be assured deliveries will continue by placing your order online or by telephone from our other outlets.
“We look forward to welcoming you back at PQ St. Helier just as soon as we can and hope to see you at our [other] locations during the summer season."
Before and after: Andy Scott argues that Pizza Quarter has made significant improvements to the Gorey area with its offering.
The problem, Salt Limited Director Andy Scott told Express, was that the Pizza Quarter had previously had a low staff turnover, meaning that some of their other staff had become locally qualified. Using this as a precedent, he said that the Population Office had declined to award the chain – already with 24 staff – more permissions at a time when the brand was growing, and looking to expand its team by 12.
Despite having provided the department with a financial breakdown detailing their “evident long-term local investment and track record of improvements in the Island”, his staffing requests were still refused.
Mr Scott strongly criticised at the decision, telling Express that he feels “unfairly penalised” despite efforts to genuinely better Jersey:
“We have invested considerably and are extremely proud of our new store and offering at Gorey and feel it lends itself well to the area, blending in sympathetically whilst offering visitors and locals alike an affordable F&B alternative. Given our staffing constraints we are still only able to open this in the evening and do not have enough staff to open during the daytime; this is even after the temporary suspension of service from our St. Helier store.
Before and after: the Pizza Quarter Greve d'Azette site.
“In order to re-open Gorey (the former Cafe Du Gouray) following its extensive improvements/refurbishment, we were presented with significant and unnecessary hurdles which ultimately ended in us taking the Economic Department to court. Whilst we won our case and were awarded costs, this is another example of how local businesses can be discouraged from contributing to Jersey’s economy.”
He says that it’s vital that such States attitudes are changed to allow burgeoning businesses to grow, and to keep the Island unique:
“On a personal level I feel that it is important that the Island supports the growth of local island businesses as when large national identikit brands come to the Island this only serves to dilute Jersey's identity, charm and appeal. Furthermore, these national brands contribute far less to local suppliers and do not pay tax locally.
“Jersey has been extremely fortunate to have ridden a finance wave for a number of decades and perhaps the true value of a local identity has been somewhat lost, I only hope that the States recognise this before Jersey becomes like that of any other generic English town, as once Jersey's unique identity and charm has gone, it's gone for good.”
Before and after: Pizza Quarter's Bel Royal branch.
The news comes less than a week after the Population Office announced that they would be putting financial pressure on businesses to clamp down on licensed and registered workers through a raft of higher charges.
A Population Office spokesperson stated: “While we cannot comment on individual cases, the Council of Minister is seeking to reduce migration, focusing the permissions we do grant on delivering the greatest benefit for Islanders.
“At a time when Jersey is experiencing record employment growth and reducing unemployment - with only the public sector reducing its staffing levels - it can be challenging for some businesses to recruit all the staff they want. However, it is necessary for us to deliver a sustainable balance.”
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