The coronavirus crisis offers the chance to reassess the “incredible role” the hospitality industry plays in society, Hawksmoor CEO Will Beckett has told MCA’s The Conversation.

Beckett said the industry was “woven into the fabric of society”, a realization he suggested was part of a wider reappraisal of things that matter most to society and individuals.

He said while it was inevitable some jobs would be lost, Beckett argued those that return would have a “renewed, longer term commitment” to the sector.

Meanwhile UK Hospitality CEO Kate Nicholls agreed, saying the crisis had brought about a “rediscovery of social purpose”, evidenced most clearly with the many operators who had donated meals to the NHS and needy.

Beckett said: “I think that across society, and for a lot people individually, it’s reminded them of the importance of why they do certain things.

“It’s relevant that we as an industry think about why we exist. We’re woven into the social fabric of this country. We play an incredible role

“We don’t just bang out a few burgers and hope we get a good profit at the end. We’re revisiting the great reason we exist, why restaurants and pubs play such a key role, and helping to remind the country of that is really really important.”

On people, Beckett said staying in touch with furloughed team members was crucial, with the company’s strong culture and emphasis on purpose playing a vital role in maintaining engagement during lockdown.

He said: “We talk about purpose and why we exist a lot at Hawksmoor, even at the best of times. We’re incredibly irritating like that

“People need something to look forward to. I’m certain we will lose people. But I think we will get renewed, longer term commitment, to a good job, for a good company, once we are able to come back.

“We have got to concentrate on those people. There’s not much you can do about the people from Europe who have decided to go home.”

Kate Nicholls added: “It’s a rediscovery of social purpose for a lot of people, and a reminder to the public, which you can see through the amount of work being done to support key workers.”