Looking back at 2011, and looking forward into 2012, there exists improving signs of economic activity both coming from the consumer, as well as in the boiler rooms of several restaurant companies. Many of these restaurant companies have experienced a surge of sales picking up in the beginning of January, and anticipate that carrying through Q1 into Q2. There seems to be some marked improvement at the executive level which has resulted in additional levels of opportunities opening up, and should result in additional movement throughout the industry. Having recently attended a national restaurant recruiting conference, the buzz was both hopeful and encouraging, as many presentations demonstrated a mood of optimism and growth.
The mood of 2011 started out in similar fashion only to have several unprecedented events take place throughout the entire year that sent things into a challenging pattern for employment and search activity. We had the Japanese earthquake in March together with the run up of oil topping $115 a barrel. Then there was the Arab democratic uprising in the Middle East that put a damper on things, followed during the summer by our Government’s debt ceiling issue. The headlines continued throughout fall of 2011, which were all about the EU debt problems and held the bulls captive much into the holiday season.
Statistically speaking, the probability for such events recurring are remote, and there should be the groundwork for things to continue improving throughout the first half of 2012. On the M&A front, there has also been several notable acquisitions created in 2011 within the restaurant industry which should create new opportunities in 2012. These changes have led to a fair amount of leadership turnover and should result in growth opportunities throughout the rest of this year.