Propel Quarterly Summer 2019

Page 1

uarterly The essential information resource for pub, restaurant & foodservice operators


Abokado founder Mark Lilley reveals how a decision to regroup has made the company fighting fit

First-class Kricket Tim Martin's inspiration UKHospitality's ďŹ rst year Cool packaged beer Conference highlights Summer serves Beware the PC police Foodservice forecasts


ISSUE 27 • SUMMER 2019


Contents 06 14


51 Published by Propel Hospitality Unit 26, Graylands Estate, Langhurstwood Road, Horsham, West Sussex RH12 4QD Managing Director Paul Charity T: 07899 984814 E: Managing Editor Paul Bishop T: 01444 817690 E:



First-class Kricket


Historic year for UKHospitality


Health check


In the mix


Straight from the fridge


Leadership Summit


Accelerating senior hire performance


Market-leading insights


Consumers retain appetite for eating out


Beware the PC police


Visits down, spend up


Reading matters


Crunching the numbers

Director Jo Charity T: 01444 810304 E: Partnerships Director Jill Harrington T: 01444 810306 E: Events Co-ordinator Anne Steele T: 01444 817691 E:

Deputy Editor Martin Cooper T: 01444 817689 E:

Design & Production Jonathan Taylor T: 01403 256614 E:

Insights Editor Mark Wingett E:

Paul Lawrence E:


Glynn Davis talks to founders Rik Campbell and Will Bowlby on the ongoing success of their Indian small plates concept Chief executive Kate Nicholls celebrates the trade body’s achievements since its formation a year ago Abokado founder Mark Lilley tells Mark Wingett how a decision to regroup two years ago has placed the healthy eating chain in a great position for growth Martin Cooper looks at some of the drinks launched on the market ahead of another (hopefully) long, hot summer Glynn Davis discovers the myriad delights of cool packaged beer An overview of the conference in which some of the sector’s most experienced bosses shared expertise Chris Edger looks at what successful new executives do and how companies can get off to a flying start Mark Wingett looks at highlights from the second Restaurant Marketer & Innovator European Summit Ann Elliott looks at her agency’s third annual survey, which investigates diners' thought processes Paul Chase warns of prospective dangers arising from changes to the Portman Group’s code Dominic Allport forecasts how the British foodservice sector will look at the end of 2020 JD Wetherspoon founder Tim Martin talks to Propel managing director Paul Charity about the eight books that have shaped his business philosophy Simon Iddon offers tips to prevent operators “drowning in data” and says the more we collect and use, the better for everyone Contributors Dominic Allport, Paul Chase, Martin Cooper, Glynn Davis, Chris Edger, Ann Elliott, Simon Iddon, Kate Nicholls and Mark Wingett , Printing and Distribution Bishops Printers, Walton Road Farlington, Portsmouth PO6 1TR



©Propel Hospitality Ltd. 2019


Steady as she goes


uring the past 18 months to two years it has been common to refer to the current trading environment as the “new norm” – a barrage of costs and Brexit uncertainty mixing together like some kind of toxic sludge. The number of restructuring cases in the sector and the wider business world has meant we’ve sadly become numb to the term “company voluntary arrangement”. There may be more pain on the horizon but I would argue for many of the companies that have had to make difficult decisions in the past few years to control their cost bases and keep their businesses afloat, they have become, if not comfortable, then at least accepting of how the market currently lies. The latest delay to the Brexit process has moved that contentious issue off the front pages for a while and also acted as a small boost to activity in our sector. Often used as an excuse for a lack of activity – funding, expansion or innovation – some of the Brexit logjam, I would argue, has eased. As we approach the half-year mark, I would also argue the past six months has shown an industry getting to grips with its new landscape. I’m not suggesting it doesn’t remain challenging but there have been a number of more positive pieces of activity for Propel to highlight – from the successful IPO of Loungers and The Restaurant Group’s appointment of Andy Hornby through to further growth for the likes of Laine Pub Company, Oakman Inns and Restaurants, The New World Trading Company and City Pub Group as well as the continued emergence of innovators such as Flight Club, Market Halls and Incipio Group. This issue of Propel Quarterly highlights all

the above while looking at healthy eating chain Abokado, which, in the words of founder Mark Lilley in our interview, “swallowed its pill early” by closing unprofitable sites and drilling down on central costs, leaving the company in a strong position for growth. Then there’s Kricket, a relative newcomer on the block, which has witnessed what the effects of over-expansion and failing to constantly evolve a concept has done to the sector and so vowed to do things differently from the start. As cofounder Will Bowlby states: “We aren’t going to oversaturate London with a fourth Kricket – we’ll do something else to make the group more interesting.” Another significant move has been the growing influence of UKHospitality. It's a year since the organisation was formed and, driven by chief executive Kate Nicholls, it has played a key role in strengthening ties and gaining influence with the highest levels of government at a crucial period for the sector. In this issue Kate looks back over the trade body’s first year – 12 months in which it saved the industry circa £750m through measures announced as a result of its campaigns. Of course give it a few weeks and the European elections will have put Brexit front and centre again, providing more gnashing of teeth and uncertainty. However, it feels as if consumers have shrugged their shoulders enough about this issue and been happy to spend their hard-earned money on eating and drinking out at venues that continue to provide a great experience, as was ever the case. It could be the case operators who have put off that expansion plan, refresh programme or sales process will do the same. It’s time to stop blaming the distractions and get on with it.

Mart Wingett, Insights editor, Propel

“It feels as if consumers have shrugged their shoulders enough about this issue (Brexit) and been happy to spend their hard-earned money on eating and drinking out at venues that continue to provide a great experience” 4



GO FOR GOLD! • “Old Golden Hen” appeals to more younger drinkers & female drinkers than other leading ale brands*. • Brewed with the rare Galaxy hop, delivering a burst of tropical flavour for maximum refreshment. • Available in cask, keg and bottles. *Source: Cardinal Brand Tracker, March 2018

Call 0345 600 1799 to place your order


First-class Kricket Glynn Davis talks to founders Rik Campbell (left) and Will Bowlby on the ongoing success of their Indian small plates concept


eer through the plate-glass windows of modestly sized Kricket in Soho and you’ll conclude this bare brick-walled restaurant with a long bar counter facing an open kitchen is pretty popular. You’re unlikely to spot any spare seats but, unlike some other fashionable places, you won’t find a long queue snaking down the road either. But don’t equate a lack of queues for a lack of popularity – on a typical ▲



Image courtesy of




Kricket Soho night diners can expect to wait more than two hours for a table as up to 200 people look to enjoy dinner at this buzzy nonbookable, 75-cover Indian restaurant. This level of demand is managed through the WalkIn app, which enables the Kricket team to manage lengthy queues virtually and message customers’ phones just before their table is ready. Amazingly, the system’s efficiency total cost to open means there are only four drop-outs Kricket’s debut, from the waiting 28-cover site list on an average evening as regulars know booking a dinner for 8pm requires them to join the “queue” about two hours earlier. So what exactly is it that has so many people willing to wait two hours for a message to come through on their phone? We are talking about an Indian-inspired small plates/sharing concept that uses British ingredients and authentic spices complemented by cocktails. The concept is the brainchild of Will Bowlby and Rik Campbell, who founded Kricket in June 2015 operating from a shipping container at Pop Brixton with a menu that, incredibly, had only been tested once – with Bowlby cooking some taster plates in his kitchen at home for a group of mates a mere three weeks before the official opening date. A classically trained chef, Bowlby had worked in India but only cooking European food. On his return to the UK he immersed All images courtesy of


himself in Indian cuisine, working for Vivek Singh at Cinnamon Kitchen and, on meeting up again with university pal Campbell, the pair devised a “pipe dream” to open a place together. Bowlby would handle the cooking while Campbell would focus on the drinks side, which he’d been interested in since dabbling in hospitality when running student club nights. Campbell says: “I quit my job at Deloitte and twiddled my thumbs while becoming disheartened during our search for a property. Then a pop-up in Brixton sprouted up and we pitched for a site in February 2015 with an opening date of June. It turned out to be a fantastic site to show people what we were about, even though we didn’t really know what we were doing!” Whatever they were doing worked because, following a visit by the Telegraph’s Giles Coren, other food critics starting visiting “one after the



other”. Although the total cost to open the 28-cover site – £45,000 – was everything Bowlby and Campbell had at the time, which isn’t even a rent deposit on the sort of place they would open now, the simplicity of the venue worked in their favour. Campbell says: “The food was first and foremost. We’d now say restaurants are about food, design and service but ▲










ENQUIRE NOW FOR A ** FREE INSTALLATION CALL OR EMAIL QUOTING ‘TRADE PRESS DRAUGHT ENQUIRY’ AND A MEMBER OF OUR TEAM WILL BE HAPPY TO HELP. 0800 1 000 000 – CONNECT@CCEP.COM Sources: *Serendipity 2, Cola & Soft Drinks Consumer Research in Licensed Environments, July 2018. 68% figure based on survey of 1,541 respondents, ‘People are willing to pay more’ statement and 43% figure based on survey of 541 respondents. **Free installation subject to a minimum order of 2 bag in box products from CCEP per week. © 2019 The Coca-Cola Company. All rights reserved. COCA-COLA and COCA-COLA ZERO SUGAR are registered trade marks of The Coca-Cola Company.

All images courtesy of


being in a container it was all about the food. In a shipping container your expectations are low. People now expect so much more from us.” The food proposition hasn’t really changed. Although it has broadened it retains the core dishes that were there at the start, namely bhel puri, KFC (Keralan fried chicken), samphire pakoras, and pumpkin squash with fresh paneer. Bowlby says: “Moving on to open bigger spaces allowed us to do more stuff such as buying a tandoor and a grill, but we kept most things the same.” Although the container served them spectacularly well, the pair were keen to open a permanent bricks-and-mortar unit in Brixton. However, Bowlby recalls it as a demoralising experience. He says: “We looked for ages but cowboy landlords kept letting us down so we decided to keep the container and look at Soho instead. We looked at a lot of things and said ‘no’ but a property was on the market with landlord Shaftesbury that had 22 offers on it from the big chains. The deal on it had fallen over and it went back on the market quietly but for innovative concepts only. We put an offer in and got it. It’s the centre of the restaurant world and the market was spiking but we managed to get in on a good deal.” Finance for the new unit came from Chris Miller and his White Rabbit Fund, with Campbell doing the old restaurateur trick of telling the landlord he had the money and telling Miller he had the property. Campbell says: “We first met Chris


“The food was first and foremost. We’d now say restaurants are about food, design and service but being in a container it was all about the food. In a shipping container your expectations are low. People now expect so much more from us”


at the container and we were his first investment – a safe one probably. We’re a good, solid, stable brand and we’re running it with all operational control. Chris is about great advice and money.” The container and Soho ran concurrently for half of 2017 but Campbell reveals they only spent a single day in Brixton as the Soho site consumed them. Then, rather than sign on for 12 more months with the container, the pair made a move – with White Rabbit funding – to open a more drinks-led venue in Brixton. They took over a former Brindisa site with Campbell “wanting arches”. One arch now houses a 44-seat restaurant with a paired-down menu, while a second arch is a 30-seat bar with late licence. Campbell says: “It’s a different vibe and we know Brixton so it’s informal and we can be experimental. We originally opened it as a test kitchen but it proved too small.” The next move was far from small-time. Bowlby and Campbell had looked at a unit at the Television Centre development at White City in west London but rejected it as the site was tucked away at the back of the development. However, when Salt Yard pulled out of a unit in a prime location, the deal was back on and Kricket took on the 140-cover (including terrace) site across 5,000 square feet. Again, it was a case of “more space, better equipment” and the ability to do more things with the menu. Bowlby admits satisfying the west London clientele has been challenging. He adds: “The customers are more difficult and we’ve had to adapt. They like their ▲







All images courtesy of

“We aren’t going to oversaturate London with a fourth Kricket – we’ll do something else to make the group more interesting”

creature comforts. The staff were a bit shell-shocked with the complaints we received about minor things as they weren’t used to it at the other sites.” Kricket’s White City site certainly doesn’t see the two-hour waiting times experienced at Soho – Thursday to Sunday is currently 70% of its trade – but big changes are expected now 2,000 office workers have moved into the development, while apartments are also coming on stream. While the new site beds down – Brixton is “getting there” and Soho is “fully mature with all the cogs going around” – it’s fair to say the concept is well and truly proven and could be rolled out across the UK. But Bowlby and Campbell have other plans. Bowlby says: “We aren’t going to oversaturate London with a fourth Kricket – we’ll do something else to make the group more interesting. We’d like to do an international Kricket in India or China, while we’re doing some research and development on other horizontal stuff and spin-offs.”


Kricket Score • Covers served per week: 3,000 • Average spend: Brixton £30 to £35; Soho £35 to £40; Television Centre £40 to £45 • Core customer age: 25 to 35 • Kricket cookbook: £26 • Food/drink split: Soho 70:30; Brixton 60:40

One idea is to follow the lead of the operators behind the Palomar restaurant, who opened the Blue Posts pub in Soho to accommodate customers waiting in the restaurant’s virtual queue. Campbell says: “We would like something similar and a grab-and-go concept too, although I’m not sure delivery excites us. We gave it a trial and knocked it on the head.” Part of the group’s future also involves


evolving the ingredients and techniques it uses to deliver high-quality dishes at affordable prices. Campbell says: “The menu could be elevated through better products. We mostly try to use British fish, meat and vegetables, and fruit and vegetables in season, while all our spices are authentic. We’re a lighter interpretation of Indian food.” This package has caught the eye of Michelin, which awarded Kricket’s Soho restaurant a Bib Gourmand, while Campbell suggests the Television Centre site could bag a Michelin star. This would be a great achievement for Kricket, which has been cleverly positioned between what Bowlby calls “bog standard” Indian restaurants at one end of the market and the “so-called fine dining” places at the other, which have become a big feature of upmarket Mayfair in recent years. If such a star is bestowed on Kricket’s west London outpost, it’s anybody’s guess how long the queue will extend around the virtual block.

Why not run your own

pub business? With over 4,000 pubs, there’s an opportunity for every entrepreneur wanting to run their own pub.

03333 20 00 36

Or follow us on:

Or, why not manage one of our pubs instead?

Craft Union are drink led pubs at the heart of the community.

Find out more about managing one of our Bermondsey pubs where great service is everything.

Insight “We are now strengthening our ties and influence with the highest levels of government with regular meetings at numbers 10 and 11 Downing Street – and not just those focused on navigating us through the ongoing Brexit saga!”

Historic year for UKHospitality W

e are approaching a year since UKHospitality was formed with the goal of providing a single, authoritative voice for our fantastic sector and championing the teams working in our world-class businesses up and down the country. Hospitality continues to make a huge contribution to the UK economy. In economic terms, we generate more in revenue per annum than aerospace, automotive and pharmaceuticals combined. The sector employs more than three million people, invests £10bn in this country, and collectively contributes almost £40bn that helps fund our essential public services. Following last year’s merger of the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers and the British Hospitality Association to form UKHospitality, our voice is being heard loud and clear alongside other sector champions in the UK. One of our first objectives was for UKHospitality to be included as one of the key business groups “in the room” when it came to discussing policy decisions that have an impact on members and the thousands of hospitality businesses in the UK. We are now strengthening our ties and influence with the highest levels of government with regular


Chief executive Kate Nicholls celebrates the trade body’s achievements since its formation


estimated industry savings resulting from measures announced as a result of UKHospitality campaigns in its first year


meetings at numbers 10 and 11 Downing Street – and not just those focused on navigating us through the ongoing Brexit saga! We are meeting ministers and departmental teams on a weekly basis to inform the policymaking process and ensure MPs who conduct inquiries that make recommendations with a direct impact on hospitality hear first-hand from sector experts on issues such as employment costs, business rates and the future of our high streets.

Gaining traction Alongside crucial public affairs and advocacy work and our ongoing programme of MP engagement, we are working tirelessly to tell your story and share your concerns through the national and trade media and at numerous industry events and conferences. Since coming together under the UKHospitality brand, I feel we are gaining more traction with broadcasters and key titles, which recognise the size, importance and valuable contribution our sector makes to the UK economy. There is an appetite to learn more about the current challenges hospitality businesses face in tandem with an opportunity to showcase the innovative work that’s taking place to provide jobs and long-term career pathways. ▲

Making Licensing easy for 24 years... Ask us How! John Gaunt & Partners are a specialist

The sevices we offer are:

licensing, betting and gambling solicitors

X Premises & Personal Applications

serving clients in England, Scotland and

X Review Hearing Legal Representation

Wales for the last 24 years.

X Licence & Due Diligence Reviews

team of friendly expert staɈ, we can

X Advice on Licensing and othert Regulatory Offences

help you get the licences and training

X APLH Courses & eLearningPLUS

With a 24-hour helpline and a dedicated

you need to run a pub, club, hotel, casino, restaurant or shop anywhere in Great Britain. All you need to do is get in touch. e: t: 0114 266 8664 w:

X Temporary Event Notices X Gaming Machines

X Premises Licence Transfers & DPS/DPM Changes




Above: Wales Food and Drink Day in Parliament Right: UKHospitality Summer Conference – Shaping The Future Top right: Support and resources to enhance the skills and training hospitality already provides

Let’s look briefly at some of our notable successes: ● Scores of parliamentarians came to our Hospitality Day in October where they met representatives from across the sector. They saw the passion and commitment you bring in running your businesses and delivering a world-class service, with many MPs pledging to do more to support the sector. We also established the Hospitality Workforce Commission 2030 to identify the sector’s strengths and weaknesses and give employers an opportunity to communicate this to parliamentarians.

“W will “We ill remain i iin th the thick of it to ensure the voice of hospitality is heard and continue to bang the drum for the sector and enhance its image in the eyes of the public and policymakers”

● The in-principle agreement of a landmark sector deal will provide us with incredibly useful support and resources to enhance the skills and training hospitality already provides. ● Our concerted and joined-up campaigning resulted in a positive Budget for hospitality, recognising and acknowledging our core campaigns around employment costs, business rates and digital paying its fair share. We estimate the measures announced as a result of our campaigns are likely to save the trade £750m during the year. ● We founded an exciting Diversity Forum to promote equality and inclusivity in the hospitality sector, which aims to share best practice among members. ● We developed the UKHospitality Academy, which provides “gold standard” learning in line with a wide range of apprenticeship standards, funded through the Apprenticeship Levy or subsidised by the government. ● We had a greater share of voice in the media on key sector issues – from myself, my team and, where possible, our member businesses. We are broadcasting and delivering the UKHospitality message to a much larger audience than before.

Kate Nicholls speaking at UKHospitality Summer Conference – Shaping the Future

Continuing C ti i th the fight ht Looking ahead I still feel more can be done to promote the sector’s entry-level opportunities, which range from apprenticeships to specialist areas such as marketing, finance, design, IT and law. Many entrepreneurs, managers and senior executives in the sector started out pulling pints, serving coffee or on graduate schemes and have worked their way up. We are a true meritocracy but need to shout more about the opportunities we provide to all, regardless of background or education. We know the UK’s high streets have been hit hard by rising costs and have lost ground to digital businesses. We’ll continue to fight for a level playing field and a fair tax and regulatory system to help hospitality flourish. As always, we’ll look to safeguard the sector’s future and protect our contribution to the UK’s economic and social well-being. Unpredictable as it may feel, we know all too well one of our main priorities is to ensure the sector is protected in a post-Brexit world. Securing a workable migration policy to keep our teams supported and prices low while providing great choice for consumers has been a relentless focus. Of course no-one knows what post-Brexit Britain will look like and when we might finally leave the European Union. What’s certain is we will remain in the thick of it to ensure the voice of hospitality is heard and continue to bang the drum for the sector and enhance its image in the eyes of the public and policymakers. Finally, and on a personal note, I’d like to thank you for all your support and kind messages during what has been a transformational 12 months. It has been an incredible journey for all the team at UKHospitality and one that has been hugely rewarding. I look forward to working closely with you all in the coming year when, together, we can achieve even more.

Kate Nicholls is chief executive of UKHospitality SUMMER 2019 PROPEL QUARTERLY



Health check Abokado founder Mark Lilley tells Mark Wingett how a decision to regroup two years ago has placed the healthy eating chain in a great position for growth


ark Lilley, founder of Abokado, the Kings Park Capital-backed healthy eating chain, went through a cathartic experience two-anda-half years ago, one that saved his business. Abokado, in Lilley’s own words, “swallowed its pill early” by disposing of five noncore sites in expectation of a further softening in the London property market. It was hoped the move would also put the business in the best position to take advantage of opportunities that might come on to the market as other operators disposed of sites and fell into administration. Lilley says: “Emotionally it was a difficult decision to dispose of sites but we should have got rid of the majority two, three, four years ago as they were never going to generate a meaningful return.” Lilley, who also disposed of the company’s original site last year, says all the jettisoned sites were marginal – either too small or operationally challenging to get right. He says: “They were sites we wouldn’t open now and they were taking up a disproportionate amount of management time. We would spend 90% of our time focusing on the red lines in the profit and loss of those sites rather than focusing on the green lines of those units doing well and how to make them even better, turning the dial up by between 10% and 15%. “Even now, we review the estate on a monthly and quarterly basis and we are much stricter on what’s an acceptable returns criteria. A site could be in profit but if it’s taking up quite a proportion of central head office costs, you have to factor that in. Getting rid of those sites felt great – like extracting poison. We ended up with a stable, profitable, cashgenerative core estate we can focus on growing. I won’t delay making those decisions again in the future.” The business, which Kings Park has backed since 2012, regrouped and reshaped its central cost base because Lilley felt the restaurant sector was entering a new world of “higher occupancy costs, worse ▲ SUMMER 2019 PROPEL QUARTERLY



margins and higher labour costs”. He adds: “Although we all hope we can keep producing higher like-for-like sales forever, we needed to accept we couldn’t and so we restructured central costs to run the business more efficiently. We opened in Hammersmith in December last year with a refreshed design and the site is about where we expected in terms of performance. “It’s a different market for us, with seven-day trading rather than our core five-day a week, office-focused, highfrequency model, so we need about six months to understand that business. It’s about understanding weekends, getting more out of each daypart and managing a different labour model.” Lilley still firmly believes the company can double its 24-strong estate in central London. He says: “Our philosophy is there’s no reason why there can’t be an Abokado next to every Pret in central London and nothing has happened in the past couple of years to change that thinking. Hammersmith felt like the right time to evolve the concept. It allowed us to demonstrate to the market we could do that style of format and, if it was successful, it could take us into other areas such as Wimbledon, Ealing and Putney, adding possibly ten to 15 sites in those type of locations. “The next challenge will be to bring some of the sparkle of the design at Hammersmith into our established estate, including making the interiors more comfortable. We need to take a step back and be clear which changes to the design at Hammersmith are working and those that aren’t. It’s unrealistic to think


“Our philosophy is there’s no reason why there can’t be an Abokado next to every Pret in central London and nothing has happened in the past couple of years to change that thinking”

we would get everything right with such a drastic change. The feedback we have received from customers and landlords has been positive.”

Growing pains In terms of new stores, the company has another going through legals in central London. Lilley says: “The issue with the property market is the gap between landlord expectations and where the actual market sits is still too big. When we’re going into negotiations and the landlord’s starting point is anything less than 12-months rent free, we’re just not engaging. It is easy to get seduced by capital contributions, while those rentfree periods go extremely fast. It was frustrating throughout 2018 as we were in expansion mode and didn’t open a store until the end of the year. The desire for more sites was there – but the right opportunities weren’t.” There’s still more to be done in terms of getting Abokado’s brand message


across, Lilley says, adding: “People have always said ‘great product, very honest’ when talking about Abokado but they think we’re a bit of a secret due to poor branding, design and marketing. Once people get to know us, they become Abokado-lifers and there’s intense loyalty. “We have now defined our positioning around Pacific flavours. One of the struggles we’ve had, and I think this applies to other businesses in this space, is how undifferentiated we all are. We all sell pretty much the same thing, we all look similar and our style of operation is pretty similar. Trying to differentiate in that world has become increasingly difficult. “It became clear we needed to position ourselves in a way that gave customers an elevator pitch through which they could spread this positive word of mouth. It was taking too long to get them to understand what Abokado meant and I still think we have some work to do on that.” While work to strengthen the brand and control the cost base is a continuous task, the business has also been ensuring key positions are filled. Since November, Abokado has appointed Kara Alderin as its first managing director and Ellie Hopkins, who holds a professional chef’s diploma, as head of food. Alderin only joined the company in February 2018 as operations director. Lilley says: “During her relatively short time with us, Kara has proven immensely capable. The board has been particularly impressed by her ability to understand the big picture and set strategic direction. Kara not only believes in the long-term vision for Abokado but also lives and breathes our values. ▲

One year part–time Postgraduate Diploma in Multi–Unit Leadership and Strategy leading to a nine–month part–time MSc in Multi–Unit Leadership and Strategy.


Feature “Forecast run rate from April will be the highest profit numbers we have ever shown for the business so the hard decisions we’ve taken have paid off”

“When you’ve founded a business it’s not easy to start letting go of the reins. I imagine it’s like giving a step-parent shared custody of your child! It’s great to have finally found someone I can trust to help steer the ship.” Hopkins brings a wealth of expertise to the company having previously worked as a concept developer for Ferndale Foods, developing fresh products for brands such as Waitrose and Co-op. Prior to Ferndale, Hopkins worked for Greencore, helping to create new food lines for clients such as Sainsbury’s. Lilley says: “For the first time in 14 years I’m not leading menu development! Ellie brings some new and exciting ideas to Abokado and I’m looking forward to seeing our menu develop further during the next year.” Lilley says the business has done a great job in broadening its range during the past few years to suit different dayparts and appeal to a broader demographic. Mornings now account for 30% of visits to its stores, with the company launching a breakfast campaign in March to make more of the opportunity. Lilley says: “Mornings are now a busy daypart across a majority of our estate, with plenty of room for growth. We are committed to serving better breakfasts to busy, hungry Londoners.”

Rock solid Another area of future focus could be delivery. Lilley says: “Delivery is less than 2% of what we do, so there’s an opportunity there to double that during the next 12 months. However, we need our in-store performance to be rock solid before we put more focus on delivery.” Kings Park Capital is still extremely supportive of the business. Lilley says: “Kings Park has been in eight years now, which is probably three years more than it planned. The company will exit well when it happens. It’s under no time pressure to do that but it needs to be at the right price and to the right buyer. Kings Park understands there are pressures in the market place at present, which we are performing well against and producing decent results. I am proud the relationship is still as strong as when we started, despite some challenging bumps in the road all businesses go through. “I think the business is exitable this year. There is a strong chance we will get to the right profit number in this calendar year for



of visits to Abokado’s estate are in the morning, with the company launching a breakfast campaign in March to make more of the opportunity

that to be the case. Is there a market for deals? Perhaps not in the first half.” The company is certainly in a better position than most, producing like-forlikes for the year to the end of March 2019 of about 3% to 4%. Lilley says: “What sits behind that and what’s going to drive profitability this year is how we are looking at the model differently, restoring margin, reshaping our central cost base, which is 20% below last year. Turnover is running at about £13.5m. Forecast run rate from April will be the highest profit numbers we have ever shown for the business so the hard decisions we’ve taken have paid off. We have been so disciplined and rigorous in terms of managing the cost base and, in the background, we are optimistic about sales. We are going into what’s going to be a very unsettled 12 months knowing if sales don’t move, even by 0.1%, we are still going to have a great year. That is a great position to be in.” Of course, one step for Abokado would be to lead consolidation in its segment.


Propel recently revealed rival Pod, the 22-strong, Londonbased healthy eating operator, had been put up for sale. It appointed RSM as advisor to run the process with “significant development capital needed to get the business back on track as it continues to see a drop in sales”. Lilley says: “At one time or another there have been discussions with everyone in our space regarding consolidation, but all us founders have big egos and see our brands as extensions of ourselves. Those deals are so rare to land because why wouldn’t you just go out and buy the same number of sites at better terms rather than go through a costly rebrand exercise?” After controlling costs so well during the past two years, I can’t see Lilley jeopardising a position he has worked so hard to get into on such a deal. The tough decision he made at Abokado means it is in a healthier position than most to finally take up those investment and expansion opportunities, which will surely come its way in the coming year.




In the mix Martin Cooper looks at some of the drinks launched on the market ahead of another (hopefully) long, hot summer


s we look ahead to what “could” be a long, hot summer to rival last year’s heatwave – but without the Fifa World Cup – drinks companies have been busy creating new flavour combinations to grab an ice and a slice of this huge market. Lines of distinction have become blurred as soft drinks companies aim at the mixers market and cider-makers enter the spirits sector. Their main aim is to cater to the huge growth in the consumer quest for premium drinks. A new study by insights agency KAM Media that aims to help operators and brands understand the evolving needs of pub customers in the UK, found consumers are drinking less but spending more when they do. The On-trade Outlook 2019 report found the main reasons for trading up were to “make a drink more of a treat” (34%), “reduce alcohol intake” (34%) and “having a premium drink they can’t afford to have all the time” (29%). This trend has led to almost three-quarters (71%) of publicans seeing an increase in the purchase of premium drinks in the past 12 months. KAM Media said consumers would happily spend more on a product if they believed the entire value-formoney proposition was good, including atmosphere, speed of service, perfect serve and knowledgeable bar staff. ▲


of publicans have seen an increase in the purchase of premium drinks in the past 12 months



Feature Coca-Cola Signature Mixers With this in mind, Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP) has launched a range of mixers this summer designed to complement premium dark spirits. Rum sales continue to rise in the UK, topping £1bn in 2018 with almost 35 million bottles sold during the year, according to the Wine and Spirits Trade Association Market Report. Coca-Cola said after a decadelong “ginaissance”, drinkers were exploring dark spirits and looking to mixologists to help them “experiment with more complex flavour profiles”. The four flavours have been developed with renowned mixologists following a year-long project, the first Coca-Cola liquid collaboration in its 134-year history. The four mixes include Smoky Notes, which has been developed with Max Venning, of London’s Bar Three and Three Sheets, aimed to complement spiced rum and premium whisky. The recipe contains an essential oil – ylang ylang – along with dried fruit, warm brown spices and subtle hints of oak. Spicy Notes is a collaboration with Spanish mixologist Adriana Chia and Pippa Guy, of The American Bar at the Savoy. It has been designed to mix with spiced rum, tequila and spicy or sweet whiskey. Spicy Notes is mixed with lime,

ginger and jalapeno to provide a fiery finish. Herbal Notes, by Barcelona-based Antonio Naranjo, is aimed at amber whiskies and rum and is blended with dill leaves, citrus and lemongrass for a refreshing taste, while Woody Notes, by former Dandelyan head barman Alex Lawrence, has a tart citrus flavour provided by patchouli, yuzu and basil and goes well with premium vodka. The range comes in 200ml glass bottles, “ideal for instant mixing”, with each batch stamped with the signature of its co-creator. Coca-Cola Signature Mixers launched to the UK’s on-trade in June, while the 200ml glass bottles will also enter the off-trade. Simon Harrison, vice-president, commercial development at CCEP GB, says: “Coca-Cola has always been part of cocktail culture and history, from the Cuba Libre of the 1900s to some of the world’s best cocktails today. Coca-Cola Signature Mixers marks an exciting new frontier for the Coca-Cola trademark. We have started to see strong growth in dark spirits and a brand like Coca-Cola innovating in this segment with complex flavours and distinct pack design – in keeping with our heritage – will bring more interest and curiosity to an exciting sector.”

“We have started to see strong growth in dark spirits and a brand like Coca-Cola innovating in this segment… will bring more interest and curiosity to an exciting sector”



“Martini Fiero is the ideal drink for the modern aperitivo”

Martini Fiero Bacardi, meanwhile, isn’t content to shake and stir just one element of the sector, it’s innovating in two! Martini Fiero (14.9% ABV) is the company’s modern take on vermouth and, with a £2m investment behind the brand in its first year alone, is the biggest new product launch undertaken by Martini in years. The drink is a blend of white wine and botanicals to provide a zesty, bitter-sweet orange flavour. With 100% natural flavour and colouring, Martini Fiero is designed for a perfect 50/50 serve when paired with tonic water. Fiero means “proud”, “intense” and “bold” in Italian and the drink is aimed at a younger adult audience and the trend for bold-flavoured, brightly coloured drinks of as part of the aperitivo occasion – an Italian way of life that is steadily establishing itself in the UK. Martini master blender Beppe Musso says: “We worked hard to ensure the intense flavours of our white wine and citrus core would come through when the tonic is added. We are proud of the result – a modern vermouth with a distinctive bitter-sweet orange flavour that comes to life when paired with tonic. Martini Fiero is the ideal drink for the modern aperitivo.” ▲


For the first time in 134 years, Coca-Cola has collaborated with top mixologists to create Coca-Cola Signature Mixers, made to be mixed with premium spirits. CO-CREATED BY MAX VENNING













+6.8 0 0

Spirits are the fastest growing sector in alcohol at value growth of +6.8%1

Cola is the number one mixer in volume ahead of tonic2

4 unique flavours designed to pair with premium spirits in 12x200ml

TO FIND OUT MORE VISIT WWW.COKECUSTOMERHUB.CO.UK OR GET IN CONTACT ON 0800 1 000 000 OR CONNECT@CCEP.COM 1 Source: CGA OPMS Data MAT 29.12.2018. CGA Mixed Drinks Report 2018. 2 Source: IWSR Spirit Mix Derivative Vol Assessment 2018 - Total Channels. © 2019 The Coca-Cola Company. All rights reserved. COCA-COLA is a registered trade mark of The Coca-Cola Company.


Bombay Sapphire English Estate gin Making its Martini move doesn’t mean Bacardi has taken its eyes off the prize that continues to bubble at the top of the sales charts – gin. In the midst of the “ginaissance”, the company has launched a limited edition, summer-inspired drink aimed at Bombay Sapphire fans. Bombay Sapphire English Estate gin captures the “essence of the hills and hedgerows” that surround the company’s Laverstoke Mill Distillery in Hampshire. The 41% ABV drink features three new botanicals – pennyroyal mint,

“Some of the best ingredients are found on our doorstep, gathered from the great English countryside” rosehip and toasted hazelnut. Bombay Sapphire master of botanicals Ivano Tonutti says: “I am lucky enough to travel the world to source botanicals to infuse into our heritage gin. However, some of the best ingredients are found on our doorstep, gathered from the great

Fentimans Apple and Blackberry With that in mind, botanical brewer Fentimans has added an apple and blackberry drink to its award-winning range. The soft drink comes in 275ml bottles and a 750ml sharing format. Fentimans said the recent boom in craft drinks had created a new discerning consumer who “expects differentiated flavour experiences and premium quality options above and beyond ordinary carbonated drinks”. Fentimans marketing director Andrew Jackson said: “Being British is embedded in the DNA of the Fentimans brand. There is nothing more quintessentially British than red apples and juicy ripe blackberries in late summer. Our latest flavour innovation has been rigorously tested and we are confident this latest addition combines



English countryside resulting in a unique flavour profile so gin-lovers can enjoy a taste of English summertime.” As well as the classic gin and tonic, the botanicals in English Estate allow the drink to “match effortlessly” with premium ginger ale and cloudy apple juice to create sharing cocktail The Secret English Garden. Bombay Sapphire senior brand ambassador Sam Carter says: “Whether mixed in a spritz, combined with bolder flavours or kept simple in a G&T, it’s the must-have accompaniment to a summer’s day – whether the weather is playing ball or not!” the superior flavour experience consumers are seeking, with a unique British twist.” Founded by Thomas Fentiman in 1905, the family-owned business is run by his great-great-grandson Eldon Robson. Its range comprises 12 flavours of soft drinks and 14 mixers, plus a selection of pre-mixed alcoholic beverages. The company has said its objective is to attract a “younger consumer audience” and last year positioned itself in the growing high-quality cocktail market by launching a range of syrups under the House of Broughton brand. ▲

“There is nothing more quintessentially British than red apples and juicy ripe blackberries in late summer”

Feature Kopparberg Premium Gin Swedish cider-maker Kopparberg is another company broadening its horizons this summer – by launching into the pink gin market. The company’s 37.5% ABV pink gin is infused with Kopparberg’s strawberry and lime flavours and was made exclusively available in May for six weeks at more than 700 Greene King pubs. Now available to purchase in select retailers across the UK, the gin was part of Kopparberg’s £6m Outside Is Ours marketing campaign, while it will also be available at a number of festivals this summer. Kopparberg Premium Gin is double distilled over a fortnight to deliver a bold and balanced London dry-style gin. It is infused with the same strawberry and lime flavour that made the cider brand so successful and combines with juniper, lemon zest and coriander botanicals. Kopparberg worked with mixologists to develop two perfect serves – the first over “mountains” of ice, mixed with lemonade and garnished with slices of strawberry and lime. The other suggestion is to enjoy it with tonic and garnished with cucumber

and basil for a more traditional experience. Category serves and cocktails have also been developed for the wider trade. Head of marketing Rob Salvesen says: “Not many people know we brew and distill many other drinks in our brewery in Sweden and, with more than ten years’ experience

Frobishers Another major trend that will be at the forefront this summer is the continued growth in non-alcoholic drinks sales. A recent report by Nescafé Azera found more than threequarters (78%) of Generation Z thinks the on-trade needs to make itself more inviting to customers who don’t drink alcohol. Frobishers head of brand Jessica Waller said healthconscious, clean eating, environmentally minded millennials continue to shape trends for 2019, with the desire for reduced sugar, vitamin-packed, alcohol-free drinks expected to gain further popularity this summer. She says: “Bottled water is also enjoying an all-time high, with a consumer focus on hydration and well-being. The increasing trend for alcohol-free drinks provides operators with

in distilling gin, it was an obvious decision for us to introduce Kopparberg Premium Gin in one of our most iconic flavours. This focus on flavour, combined with our premium fruit refreshment positioning, is what we feel will set us apart from other pink gins on the market.”

an opportunity to be known for offering a range of interesting, grown-up, bold soft drinks that really get the party started.” Frobishers offers operators a booklet entitled The Art Of Tippling, which includes recipes for mocktails, cocktails and long drinks featuring juices and cordials that can be stocked or are easy to create behind the bar. Waller says: “This enables a creative drink offering with minimal preparation and trade-up opportunities on soft drinks that go above and beyond the standard cola and lemonade options. Recipes include mocktails and cocktails for when a slightly stronger tipple is required. Operators who promote the ingredients on a seasonal drinks board have a ready-made special offer. Served over ice, they can offer a delicious, hydrating drink on a summer’s day.”

“Bottled water is also enjoying an all-time high, with a consumer focus on hydration and well-being”



Advertising Feature

The rise of soft drinks – courage without the Dutch Head of brand Jessica Waller is on a mission to ’toughen up’ the soft drinks sector as Frobishers Juices sets sails under a new name inspired by 16th century explorer Martin Frobisher


e are on a mission to toughen up the category to ensure that a soft drink is not the soft option. Summer is on the horizon and promoting a selection of mocktails and non-alcoholic drinks that offer zesty flavours and fresh fruit will look forwardthinking and on trend. We have re-branded to align ourselves with the changing market for soft drinks; young people aren’t drinking as much as older generations but they don’t want to feel embarrassed about their non-alcoholic choice. Operators can’t ignore the influential Millennials who are the most abstinent age group. A study by University College London in 2018 revealed that the number of 16 to 24-year-olds who do not drink alcohol increased from 18 percent in 2005 to 29 per cent in 2015.


With their relatively high disposable income compared to ageing demographics and frequency of drinking out, Millennials are an obvious target for operators wanting to take advantage of premiumisation. The changing behaviour of millennials has been cited the most important long-term consumer trend, and operators who are switched on to this trend for grown up soft drinks are reaping the benefits.

As consumers, we are very used to seeing a list of wines, beers and spirits so why not offer the same treatment to non-alcoholic options?


Importance of the serve As we look towards summer menus, we are advising our customers to consider a drinks board or menu which has a section dedicated to soft drinks. As consumers, we are very used to seeing a list of wines, beers and spirits so why not offer the same treatment to non-alcoholic options? The serve is an important factor for adults choosing a soft drink. Whatever their reason for not drinking alcohol, they want to feel that their soft drink isn’t the soft option. A mocktail should feel grown up, and not the soft option at all. Drinks boards work particularly well during the summer when customers are relaxing outside. By displaying these choices on a board you create a bit of a daily specials vibe, which in itself has an air of exclusivity about it. The megatrend for premiumisation is still strong, with 54 percent of 18-34 year olds saying they are likely to choose

a high-quality drink or to pay more to upgrade to one. These considered menus and boards give a message of quality. Clean eating and plant-based diets bring with them a demand for healthy, environmentally friendly, high quality drinks. Our Spectacular Sparklers range is a calorie reduced option with less than 85 calories per bottle and uses a taste bud tickling amount of sugar and natural sweeteners. Available in Apple, Pear & Elderflower, Ginger & Juniper, Orange & Lemon and Raspberry and Grape, they help caterers have a strong soft drinks menu.

Fantastic fusions For a refreshing and instantly pourable fruity mix, our Fantastical Fusions are a delicious combination of mashed fruit mixed with a dash of water. With a choice of Apple and Raspberry, Apple and Mango

and Passionfruit and Orange, they are a thirst quenching, flavour packing, long drink option. Alternatively, our no-nonsense juices are simply made from fruit that has been bashed and bottled (with no added nasties) and are available in a wide range of flavours including Cherry, Mango and Bumbleberry as well as the classics Orange, Apple and Pineapple. When it comes to alcoholic choices, consumers place the value of a good

mixer at high importance with 36 percent of drinkers ordering a premium mixer with a spirit every time, or almost every time. We offer four flavoured cordials, which are an ideal mixer; Sloe & Raspberry, Peach & Lychee, Pomegranate & Rose and Lemon & Mint. With no artificial nasties, they are a great mixer to have on the shelf. Served simply with water, mixed into a mocktail and even used as an additive to prosecco and sparkling wine, a bottle of our concentrated cordial goes a long way to offer a more varied drinks menu. We have a series of recipes on our website to help operators serve interesting mocktails which offer courage without the Dutch! Visit for more information. Have you reached tippling point? Contact our sales team for more information on 01392 796610 or email ƒ SUMMER 2019 ƒ PROPEL QUARTERLY



Straight from the fridge Glynn Davis discovers the delights of cool packaged beer


hen holidaying in Belgium recently, enjoying the delights of Antwerp and Ghent, I found myself drinking mainly bottled beer in each of the bars I visited. Dulle Griet in Ghent, for instance, had 12 draught lines but its big draw was the bound list of 300 bottles. It was a similar story in the city’s Trollekelder and picturesque Het Waterhuis aan de Bierkant bars. Moving on to Antwerp, I found myself perusing hefty bottle lists once more as this was arguably where the most interesting options lay. At the atmospheric Billie’s Bier Kafétaria the 11 taps were no match for the 140-plus bottles available and at De Ware Jacob the five draught lines failed to compete with a menu of more than 100 bottles. It was clear I wasn’t alone in finding the bottle option most attractive as De Ware Jacob’s barman told me more than 50% of its sales derive from bottles. This is radically different to the situation in the UK. Like most beer drinkers in Britain my primary choice is always a draught option and I rarely scan the fridge to select a bottle or can. What’s the point when you can drink these same products at home for a much lower price?

“Following my visit to Belgium I’m having a rethink and assessing whether instantly jumping on the draught options is an outdated approach when I’m down the pub” However, following my visit to Belgium I’m having a rethink and assessing whether instantly jumping on the draught options is an outdated approach when I’m down the pub. A number of factors are coming into play that suggest I should include packaged beers in my drinking repertoire a lot more. The main aspect is the rise in quality of beer now available in bottles and, increasingly, cans. Take bottle-conditioned beer, where a secondary fermentation takes place from the addition of yeast into the bottle that effectively creates a beer that’s the


equivalent of one pulled through a hand-pump on the bar. Such bottled beers are hardly new but were forgotten as craft beer took all the glory. I became Amount of bottled aware of this hidden gem when beers available attending a bottle-conditioned tasting late last year, where I in the UK today found out that in 1971, when compared with the Campaign For Real Ale five in 1971 was formed, there were only five produced in the UK. By the time beer writer Jeff Evans wrote the Good Bottled Beer Guide in 1998, there were as many as 177. That figure has soared to an estimated 2,000 today. Alongside these quality bottled beers, an increasing amount of craft beer is becoming available in cans. Often it’s packaged in tiny volumes and isn’t widely available so, if you do find one of these rarities in a bar, it might be worth giving it a go. The argument they will be available in a supermarket for a fraction of the price is invalid. Beer-focused bars have made packaged beer part of their mix and, with limited-run craft beer now a feature of the market, we might start to see them play a bigger role in regular pubs. In many cases securing a handful of limited-run cans of a specific beer is easier for a pub than a keg. It represents a potential opportunity to pub owners if they put a bit of thought into this often overlooked part of their offer and market it to customers. Sales of cans and bottles have steadily grown to become a meaningful feature and revenue stream of my local pub, The Great Northern Railway Tavern in north London, where an array of cans stocked in its fridges greet my every visit. A number of customers ensure the limited supply of its regularly changing packaged beer doesn’t stay in the fridges for long. I might just join their number. ■


Glynn Davis is a leading commentator on retail trends


Sour grapes?

Great hospitality is all about people 7KH TXDOLW\ RI \RXU SURGXFW DQG WKH HÉ?FLHQF\ RI \RXU SURFHVVHV DUH \RXU foundation – what separates you from the competition is how your people translate these into great guest experiences. Our client success team, many of whom have a background in hospitality, can work with you to identify opportunities to develop and empower your teams to deliver what your brand promises.

Food for thought at

Conference Overview

Leadership Summit Martin Cooper gives an overview of the Leadership Summit, in which a select group of the sector’s most experienced bosses shared their expertise

Elliotts chief executive Ann Elliott


nn Elliott, chief executive of sector agency Elliotts, which partnered with Propel on the event, opened the summit by sharing an intimate story of how a touching moment of care from a member of staff at Pret A Manger opened her eyes to how a leader’s values and integrity, in this case co-founder Julian Metcalfe, can pass down to a brand’s workforce, strengthening it in the process. Elliott quoted one company chief’s message to her on what makes a truly great leader. She said: “Great leaders are people who inspire others because of who they are – their beliefs, words, values and behaviour. With such diversity and challenge in our sector, great leaders are those with a clear and compelling vision of the future who are able to engage others

Flat Iron managing director Jo Fleet


lat Iron managing director Jo Fleet talked about empowering people, trust and getting teams to “buy in” through clear communication and vision. She told delegates: “Every single leader has to have three key attributes. The first is vision. I’ve always worked with founders and they’re pretty difficult at times but they always possess utter clarity when it comes to their business – what it’s about and where it’s heading. The second is being able to communicate that vision. Apple founder Steve Jobs was not only brilliant at understanding the vision for his products and company but he was amazing at communicating that vision – not only to his team but to the world. His presentations are legendary but he was so simple in what he told people. All his slides had one or two words or pictures on them. “When I was at ASK, we opened


“Great leaders are people who inspire others because of who they are – their beliefs, words, values and behaviour”

around that vision to ensure success is delivered. Great leaders show tenacity. They release the positive energy of others and understand the power of strong relationships and great conversations. Great leaders in our sector recognise that

everyone, not just senior people, can have an important leadership role in business because they want to make a difference to what is the most important thing of all – delivering the best guest experience and truly outstanding hospitality.”

our first Zizzi restaurant and it was like introducing another member of family to the team. A lot of the ASK team saw this as a threat so we held presentations for every member of staff. We explained what Zizzi would look like in terms of decor and menu and explained who would be involved. We gave them the opportunity to ask questions and air concerns. The message was simple – and they got it. “If new people join an organisation who could effect change, for example an operations director or area manager, if they don’t get the vision they could seriously damage the company’s ethos and change its culture so you have to be absolutely clear in what you’re telling them.” The third attribute is being able to get people to buy in to that vision. Fleet said: “More than anything people need to understand where they fit in so they can help shape the company’s future. One of the best leaders I worked with made me feel my opinion really mattered

and we were going to achieve success together. The most valuable asset to any company is its people and if you make them feel special and trusted you get a really great team. “At Flat Iron, I’m always looking at ways to make the company better. Last year I took our general managers and head chefs to New York on ‘restaurant research’. If you take people out of their normal working environment you get to know them a lot better and relationships form. They feel more part of the business and you see a different team when they return. I get general managers to see the business as if it’s their own. They know their customers and teams better than I do so I want them to come up with their own ideas. It’s about making sure people are looked after.” ▲


“More than anything people need to understand where they fit in so they can help shape the company’s future”

Conference Overview

Ei Group chief executive Simon Townsend


imon Townsend, chief executive of Ei Group, revealed the leadership challenges he faced during a period of immense change at the company. He joined what was Enterprise Inns in 2014, with the company launching a new strategy and name, Ei Group, the following year. Townsend told delegates he used a simple “leadership through change” model during the transformation with four strands – create, communicate, resource and facilitate. He said: “For the first strand we were taking a tied, leased and tenanted business, which wasn’t broken but on its own was insufficient to maximise the value of every asset in our portfolio. Our objective was to create a smaller but higher-quality leased and tenanted business, a new and rapidly growing and much higher-earning managed house business and a simpler but more valuable commercial property business. “The second element was communication. The fundamental concept was to look at every one of our sites and determine which retail offer and operating model could be deployed to make each one perform best and the amount of capital and resources necessary. Everybody in the organisation, about 600 at the time (the company now employs 1,800), had to understand their role on this journey. We had to be constant and consistent in our messages. It had to be authentic, accessible, visible and real. We used a simple storyboard and went out to deliver the message.” Townsend said the third element – resource – was tougher than the first two as the new structure began to develop. He said: “The most difficult part was

Caffe Nero UK chief executive Will Stratton-Morris


affe Nero UK chief executive Will Stratton-Morris talked about building a framework for highperformance teams. He told delegates that to create a high-performing team it needed to follow a roadmap of clear direction, clear and defined roles, effective processes and strong relationships. He said: “Your role as an incoming leader is to spend six months absorbing and listening and then bring it back together in a clear narrative. Be clear about your over-arching vision for the business but break it down into


putting it all into context – what does it mean, what’s it all for, what’s my role and how will it look for me? One of the main things was working out how many people we’d need to recruit during this transformation and how many we’d redeploy from inside. We tried to redeploy wherever possible, even though they might be asked to do something profoundly different. We took risks but we unlocked some latent talent.”

“I’d like to think we’ve come through this transformation with real energy and purpose and it’s now business as usual”

are only 40 or 50 pubs but they get all the headlines. We’ve had to focus on how we manage some of the conflicts that can arise during such a change process. We’ve actually added conflict to our business model because the way our units get their sites is they have to bid against other units and demonstrate why they will make that site earn more or be more valuable to the company. We run an internal market, so you’re inviting conflict.” So what are his conclusions to the transformation? Townsend said: “I’d like to think we’ve come through this transformation with real energy and purpose and it’s now business as usual. Now we can drive the ongoing performance and, despite the risk of silos, prove the sum of the parts is greater than the whole.”

Creating value So what does the whole journey mean to the company and Townsend as its leader? He said: “We’ve laid out what Ei Group could look like in the future. As well as creating value through operations, things we’ll do in perpetuity, we’re building to create more value, unlocking inherent value in our assets with the potential to sell. In our joint-venture businesses the objective is to build operating companies to sell and share the equity value with our partners.” The final part of the model, facilitating it all, is the “single biggest role” a leader has when undergoing such a major process. Townsend said: “You’re creating silos, new bits of the business that need some bloody-mindedness, drive and momentum to create scale and make a difference but in doing so there’s the possibility you could introduce hate, malice and envy – our managed house joint-venture partnerships


ten principal strategies you are trying to pursue as a leader of your team. “You have two critical target audiences as a leader – front-line staff and your board. The mistake most leaders make, particularly in middlemanagement, is they go to the board on the assumption they’re going to require loads of detail to convince them and dump loads of content on them and neglect showing the same stuff to front-line staff. Showing them the same framework will allow them to understand the business.” Regarding the attributes required for someone to be a great leader, StrattonMorris said: “Everything you think you

need to have as a great leader – courage, certainty, confidence of being right – is almost the opposite of the truth. To be really effective in leading people you need to be willing to show you actually don’t know all the answers and be willing to show vulnerability. We need to confront both our strengths and imperfections – and we have to stick with it.” ▲


Summing up the characteristics of leadership he has seen since joining Ei Group, Townsend said: “The first is positivity, creating a positive environment in which people are invited to participate. The second is resilience. We’ve taken the group on a journey entirely different to the relatively constrained environment we were operating in and we’ve had to deal with uncertainty and ambiguity along the way. The third attribute is being forgiving. A journey like this involves risks and you need to give people permission to fail – once. The fourth attribute is humility. We’ve been in this together and there’s no room for ego. Finally, there’s being ‘constructively intolerant’ – a willingness to challenge and be challenged, a focus on demanding better but always recognising achievement.”

“To be really effective in leading people you need to be willing to show you actually don’t know all the answers and be willing to show vulnerability”

Are you fed up? Frustrated by expensive cover fees? Exhausted by manual rework caused by a lack of EPoS integration? Distraught by having to pay huge commissions for event bookings? Upset by third-party sites using your booking data to steal customers? Pained by having your margins unfairly eroded?

liveRES is different £ 0% commission, MXVW D ÁDW monthly fee

You own 100% of your customer data

Seamless EPoS integration for operational simplicity

White-labelled for a customisable booking journey

No third-party interference or confusing, competing logos

Visit today to see how liveRES can turn your frown upside down 4XRWH ¶)HG XS· WR JHW \RXU ÀUVW PRQWK IUHH

VW PRQWK IUHH IRU DOO QHZ FXVWRPHUV signing a 12-month contract. Offer expires 31 March 2019.

0333 234 1209

Conference Overview

Ten Entertainment Group chief executive Duncan Garrood


uncan Garrood, chief executive of Ten Entertainment Group, revealed his views on leadership and the customer experience. He began by talking about his time as chief executive of Punch, where he stepped down in 2017 following the acquisition of the company by Patron Capital and the sale of 1,900 pubs to Heineken. He said when he joined Punch it didn’t have a sustainable strategy for growth so he and his team formulated a new hospitality-based strategy based on customer service. He said: “We created a service culture in which every member of the Punch team understood the publicans were our customers. Working with them we formulated an investment programme in which those customers told us what they needed for their pub and community. We shared plans for ranges, price and promotions and typically saw uplifts of 20% to 25% per pub thanks to working together. Not only did the business’ bottom line improve, the morale lifted leaving everyone focused on the same thing. In fact, we made ourselves so ridiculously attractive, we got bought!”

said he joined at a time when the company had “lost its way”. So how did he turn things around? He said: “We rediscovered our roots.” Founder Bill Collinson had been “sidelined” during the brand’s rapid expansion but was brought back in to the “centre ground”. Garrood said: “We went back to how Bill’s was when it started and, with Richard Caring’s significant backing and belief, we started to see significant uplifts, more than 25% in the first restaurants we changed.” However, the brand’s customer feedback process was poor, leading the company to partner with Yumpingo. Garrood said: “I noticed the scores at one site were dropping and, on investigating, found this was allied to one dish. Customers were complaining the product wasn’t being cooked the way they expected. We discovered the equipment needed resetting and, within an hour, I watched those Yumpingo scores start climbing again. Feedback is a gift. You should always accept a gift and learn from it.”

Doing the basics Rediscovering roots Moving on to Bill’s, where he was chief executive until October 2018, Garrood

Moving on to his present role as chief executive of Ten Entertainment, Garrood revealed an often overlooked facet of the

“I think as a leader if you spend a significant amount of time in the office, you’re missing the point. You should be out with the customers and your teams” Burger King chief executive Alasdair Murdoch


lasdair Murdoch, chief executive of Burger King, talked about the role of leadership in business turnarounds. He told delegates the key to turning around a business was “starting well”. He said: “A 100-day plan may seem obvious but it’s inevitable and you have to listen to what people say – your plan mustn’t be just about what you want it to be. One of the key things as a turnaround leader is to understand the backing of your stakeholders. They’ve invested in you to turn that business around – interview them. Turning around a large business like Burger King is a lonely job and you need to have people you relate to and who you know have your back and vice-versa.” However, Murdoch said


the execution in a turnaround was much harder than the strategy itself. He said: “You need to prioritise a maximum of three things. If you try to fix everything, you will fail. If you try to do too many things people won’t be able to keep up, you won’t be able to cope, you won’t have the capital and you’ll lose all your stakeholders. Your turnaround plan must have simple milestones and you must celebrate success, otherwise it’s miserably hard work.” Regarding leadership, he said: “You have to be visible as a leader and you have to get everyone on the bus. You need to get out there and get them involved so they are helping to set the direction you’re going in. You need to get everyone together and set the record straight. Don’t sugar-coat it but paint an aspirational picture of what you’re trying to do because


customer experience – toilets. He said: “In research, the first thing customers tell you is they like lovely toilets! This is the kind of feedback leaders have to take note of. If you don’t do the most basic things a customer wants, they won’t return.” Garrood said Ten Entertainment Group was looking to improve all aspects of customers’ bowling experience to create a “seamless experience”. He said: “There’s no question forming a relationship with customers long-term has to be the ongoing priority for investment.” He revealed Ten Entertainment had launched a new bowling format – Hyperbowl – based on an interactive bumper system where lights on the bumpers create moving targets players aim to hit or avoid before hitting the pins. Garrood said: “There hasn’t really been innovation in bowling since Fred Flintstone went! Hyperbowl is great for families because the bumpers level out the skillset and I think it will attract a whole new audience to our centres.” Regarding staff retention, he said: “Staff are the most important people in a turnaround or growth situation. My personal approach is we form a family with similar values and celebrate together, train together and visit each other. I think as a leader if you spend a significant amount of time in the office, you’re missing the point. You should be out with the customers and your teams. I try to spend two-thirds of my week doing that.”

“Your turnaround plan must have simple milestones and you must celebrate success, otherwise it’s miserably hard work” people want to hold on to positive stuff.” Murdoch said the brands that were getting it right amid the current sector headwinds were the ones that had “set out their stall for the long-term”. He said: “In some ways the longer the turnaround the more sustainable it will be and you, as the leader, have to ensure people don’t get disheartened. Be objective as you can for as long as you can and make quick, decisive decisions. If you think you are going fast, go faster – and you must drive the pace. You also have to show little or no vulnerability. That’s why it’s lonely.” ▲

it will cost your company nothing and your staff will love you for it.

ƃɰɽljlj Āƃʰ Ȉɰ ƃȶ ƃʥƃɨǁӸʥȈȶȶȈȶǼ ljȴɥȢɁʰljlj ƹljȶljˎɽ ɽȃƃɽ ƺɁȴɥƃȶȈljɰ ƺƃȶ Ɂǹǹljɨ ɽɁ ɽȃljȈɨ ʥɁɨȟǹɁɨƺljӗ ʥȃȈƺȃ ljȴɥɁʥljɨɰ ljȴɥȢɁʰljljɰ ɽɁ ɨljƺljȈʤlj ɽȃljȈɨ ljƃɨȶljǁ ɥƃʰ ȈȴȴljǁȈƃɽljȢʰ ɽɁ Ȉȶƺɨljƃɰlj ɽȃljȈɨ ƺȃɁȈƺlj ƃȶǁ ˎȶƃȶƺȈƃȢ ʥljȢȢƹljȈȶǼӝ ŚɁɨȟljɨɰ ƺƃȶ ɁȶȢʰ ljʤljɨ ɨljƺljȈʤlj ʍɥ ɽɁ њѕՐ Ɂǹ ɽȃljȈɨ ɥƃʰ ǹɁɨ ɽȃlj ʥɁɨȟ ɽȃljʰ ȃƃʤlj ƃƺɽʍƃȢȢʰ ƺɁȴɥȢljɽljǁӗ ʥȈɽȃ ɽȃlj ƃȴɁʍȶɽ ɽȃljʰ ƺȃɁɁɰlj ɽɁ ɨljƺljȈʤlj ljƃɨȢʰ ǁljǁʍƺɽljǁ ǹɨɁȴ ɽȃljȈɨ ȶɁɨȴƃȢ ɥƃʰ ƃȢɁȶǼ ʥȈɽȃ Ɂʍɨ ǹljljӝ yɁɨ ȴɁɨlj ȈȶǹɁɨȴƃɽȈɁȶ ƃƹɁʍɽ ƃɰɽljlj Āƃʰ ƃȶǁ Ɂʍɨ ǹljljɰӗ ȃljƃǁ ɽɁ


er m m u S UNLEASH THE BREW IN YOU! Guatemalan, Brazilian& Colombian blend

Try our

a healthy, refreshing alternative to cold, fizzy drinks.

0% sugar over ice


Served: Nitro COLD BREW

Brought to you by

zesty summer cocktails... loNG COLD BREW spritz IsLanD Cold Brew



Conference Overview

Loungers founder Alex Reilley


oungers founder Alex Reilley talked about managing growth, succession and celebrating success as the company has grown rapidly to more than 140 sites. He told delegates: “We’ve grown quite aggressively but it has been controlled up to the point we’re now opening about 25 sites a year. We’ve seen compound annual growth (CAGR) of 38% over four years in terms of sales and 40% CAGR in terms of Ebitda. In the past 13 months we’ve seen sales of £135m and Ebitda of £18.3m. These are numbers we’re very proud of. When starting out, we believed in rolling our sleeves up. Rather than celebrating success when we got to three sites we were addicted to growing. We kept all the money in the business and worked really hard.”

Likening Loungers’ growth to that of a person who has matured through childhood and adolescence, he said once the company reached “adulthood” it needed to prioritise. He said: “Having a list of priorities and knowing what can wait for a rainy day is important, otherwise thing get changed and, before they’ve landed properly, everyone has moved on to the next thing. You also need to recruit ‘better’. You will recruit people at certain stages who are brilliant for the size of company but, regrettably, might not cut it as the business gets bigger. If you intend to scale up, you shouldn’t recruit for how the business looks today but how you think it will look in two to five years.” Loungers now employs 3,000 people and Reilley said his and co-founder Jake Bishop’s job was to make sure they’re all

Right recruitment When it comes to recruitment, Reilley said Loungers had taken a “thrifty” stance by not hiring people it didn’t need, especially in executive roles with high wages that “castrated” a business’ ability to grow. However, he said, you do need to recruit “believers” and invest in talent. He told delegates: “We’ve still got people who have been in the business for 15 years and they believe now as much as they believed then. These people help you grow.”

D&D London chief executive Des Gunewardena


uring a question-and-answer session with Ann Elliott, Des Gunewardena, chief executive of D&D London, revealed the leadership lessons he has learned during his highly successful career. Asked when he thought he became a business leader, Gunewardena said he had found it hard to think of himself as anything more than a chief executive while working under Sir Terence Conran, who was such a high-profile executive chairman and major shareholder. However, things changed when he and David Loewi led the management buyout of Conran Restaurants in 2006 to found D&D London. Asked to define the term leadership,

“We never sit in head office and make a decision based on what a spreadsheet tells us to do – we always consider what our customers and teams think. That has been the bedrock of our success” Gunewardena said: “It is about setting the culture of the company, its vision and strategy and assembling a team of people who can execute it. When people think of an organisation such as a restaurant company, the leader is the person who comes to mind. When you talk about Virgin most people probably don’t know who the chief executive is, they think of Richard Branson. Whether he’s running the business or not, he is the inspiration. “To use a football analogy, the leader is the manager or coach, he sets the strategy, does the interviews after the match and is pilloried in the press when the team loses a game. The manager is the captain who

“To use a football analogy, the leader is the manager or coach, he sets the strategy, does the interviews after the match and is pilloried in the press when the team loses a game”

“on the bus”. He said: “We want them to love, appreciate and cherish everything Loungers does. You can only do that by sharing the business with people. The more people you see rise through the ranks, the better a business becomes and the more strength in depth you have, particularly in your executive team and especially in your operations team. We’ve got an incredibly operationalattentive structure. On the Lounge side of the business we’ve got a regional operations management structure that’s very intense. We have an operations team that consists of an ops chef and an ops manager, who manage between ten and 12 sites. It’s unusual but it’s the only way we believe the culture of the business can be maintained.

Cosy culture On the Cosy Club side it’s a similar process. Two-thirds of all those positions are filled by people who joined the company at a lesser rank. Culture is the most important thing when you grow any business. A lot of the businesses struggling on the high street, I regret to say, are ones that have lost what made them special. We never sit in head office and make a decision based on what a spreadsheet tells us to do – we always consider what our customers and teams think. That has been the bedrock of our success. At more than 140 sites, I can say Loungers has never had a better culture than it has today.” goes out on the pitch and tries to win the game. Great leaders are born rather than made. I’ve always worked with entrepreneurs. They don’t go out to be a leader they just go out with an idea and wanting to be better than anyone else.” Gunewardena revealed one of the best bits of business advice he’s been given is if you want to know what’s going on in your restaurant, don’t listen to your managers, ask the local hairdresser. Explaining how this came about in Butlers Wharf, near Tower Bridge, where D&D London had four venues, he said: “You sit there having your hair done and just chat. She would tell me about problems she’d heard about at one of the restaurants and I’d honestly use that in terms of dialogue with managers and David on how to fix it. Unfortunately, I only go to the hairdresser’s every four or five weeks!” ▲ SUMMER 2019 PROPEL QUARTERLY


Conference Overview

PizzaExpress managing director Zoe Bowley


izzaExpress managing director Zoe Bowley revealed her top ten tips on leadership. Be passionate, proud but not precious In this industry there is a tendency to hold on to things too tightly. Be proud but not precious. Focus on the important things but do it with the passion this industry is renowned for. Understand the value of openness and honesty This is about communication, your biggest opportunity and weapon in leadership. Teams need context. With context the most difficult decisions can be communicated. Give the “what” and the “why” and they will give you the “how”. Every single member in the team must understand the valuable role they play in an organisation – no matter what level they work at. Openness and honesty creates trust and with that you can galvanise your teams. Find your people Business is founded on relationships. Get the right team but make sure they argue with you daily – never have a team of nodding dogs. The flipside is to never compromise, you need to weed out the weak spots. You don’t need to be the expert, just able to ask questions It’s about breadth versus depth, and

Carluccio’s chief executive Mark Jones


arluccio’s chief executive Mark Jones explained how the company was building the quality and skills of its general managers to lead the business out of decline following the brand’s “lemming-like” rush into expansion and familiar woes amid the “casual dining recession”. The company was a “fortnight away” from administration but came through its company voluntary arrangement (CVA) “pretty professionally”. However, it needed a “whole new story” to hang the brand on and, following a review of the business from top to bottom, Jones and his team devised “Fresca”. The aim of the £10m plan was to give its customers a better experience and staff a brand they could be proud of while providing shareholders with a profitable


“Every single member in the team must understand the valuable role they play in an organisation – no matter what level they work at” this naturally creates great platforms for discussion. When I became managing director of PizzaExpress I had to ask lots of questions and I had to learn. As a team, we always flip between three things – functional expertise, strategic direction and being the leadership shadow. Together we have solved some brilliant challenges. Don’t take the monkey Being the boss has a responsibility and you think you should know everything. Ten years ago my gravestone would have read “leave it with me” but the fact is when you put that monkey on your shoulders you’re not adding to the business. Never let teams leave the room having left the monkey on your shoulder. Teach them where to get support, either from you or networks in the organisation. Use your past wisely Your past experiences don’t always shape your future. Connect your DNA and experience but make it relevant to the future. It’s a really lazy option to continually repeat what you’ve done in the past but the ability to unlearn and relearn at pace is critical.

or three levels below you in the organisation. Understand what your teams are trying to tell you. Sometimes it’s the indirect nugget that gives you the insight. There’s no substitute for being out there in your business and listening to what people have to say. The greatest strategies come from unexpected sources – and they’re generally free. Manage your power Don’t overestimate your power. Less is more. You can still stay in control but empower your teams and give them an environment in which they can flourish without you having to have the final say. However, sometimes you have to say “no”, even though the rest of the business wants you to say “yes”. Listen to that niggle. Have a plan Great leaders rarely leave things to chance but with the industry as it is, it’s no good just having one plan, you need several back-up plans. If the original plan doesn’t work, you’ve got to have the humility to admit you’ve got it wrong. People respect that.

Talk to everyone Your greatest insight will come two

Be yourself Being you makes such a difference. Learned behaviours are easy to spot. There’s huge energy in this industry. It’s not about being an extrovert or having the loudest voice but it is about standing for something. Bland will get you nowhere.

and growing business. Carluccio’s decided a major focus would be to invest in the leadership skills of its general managers. Jones said: “Fresca hinges on our people. We’ve taken £1m of the £10m and invested it in recruiting, training and developing great teams. Our bold statement is we’ll fill 75% of our vacancies by promoting from within. If you want a career with us, you’ve got it. We’re starting to make progress. We’re rebuilding our business around ‘famiglia’ – a family of people who want to work for our brand, are passionate about it and want to deliver on our turnaround

programme. There’s no point in spending £10m without having a great team working for us.” Asked what the leadership antidote was to casual dining’s overenthusiasm for spending too far, too fast, which had led many companies into CVAs, Jones replied: “I’m not sure any management team had the bravery to go to their investors and say ‘look, we need to take time out’. This whole situations will head towards consolidation. There’s still a bit of pain to come but we’re not fazed by that.”

“We’ll fill 75% of our vacancies by promoting from within. If you want a career with us, you’ve got it”


Feature Insight

Chris Edger looks at what successful new executives do and how companies can ensure they get off to a flying start

Accelerating senior hire performance


ll organisations need refreshment, an injection of external senior talent that can propel them to the next level. In our industry, where significant restructuring is taking place, most notably in the casual dining sector, there has been a lot of senior movement in and around the sector. In normal times external senior hires account for about 30% of all senior leadership transitions in hospitality, but the risks and costs of hiring externally are high. In its 2017 global research into senior recruitment, executive search company Egon Zehnder found almost two-fifths (38%) of all external senior appointments resulted in outright failure, with three-fifths (60%) of those that hung on experiencing severe delayed performance. Tangible costs of outright failure are obvious – lost search fees, wasted recruitment time, operational disruption and negative morale. Intangible costs of delayed performance include the hidden costs of senior hires remaining consumers rather than producers for too long. But, broadly speaking, what do successful senior hires do and how can organisations learn from these insights to accelerate their performance from day one? During research for my forthcoming book Coaching Senior Hires – Transitioning Potential Into Performance Quickly!, I spoke to and analysed the performance of ten smart senior hires in our sector who had made a game-changing impact in their new role. I


found whatever the lifecycle position of the organisation they joined, they carried out six mutually interdependent tasks better than their peers. These are the “big six tasks” they need to carry out:


of all external senior appointments result in outright failure according to research by Egon Zehnder


Drive strategic clarity Senior hires are often confronted by organisations and functions suffering from group think, strategic imprecision and drift. Looking at the problem from a fresh perspective – seizing the window of opportunity in which they are expected to ring changes – smart senior hires drive a clear strategic direction that inspires hope and confidence at their new organisation, from top to bottom.

Achieve operational grip Standards frequently slip and the organisation has lost sight of what it is there to do, namely satisfy and delight customers. Getting into the business quickly, smart senior hires identify the root cause of operational failure by listening to their front-line people and closely watching customer behaviour. Back at base they quickly get a grip on the resources, processes and enablers to have a positive impact on the customer experience to produce an immediate discretionary dividend on the front line.

Navigate cultural sensitivities Cultural mismatch is the greatest single reason for senior hire failure. Why? Senior


• •


• • • • •
















Insight hires often find it hard to stomach some of the cultural idiosyncrasies of their new home, taking intemperate steps to change things too quickly. Paternalistic organisations might need toughening up and bureaucratic organisations might need loosening up. The smart senior hires I spoke to tread cautiously, respecting the traditions, customs, norms and central belief system of their new environment. Smart senior hires avoid the culture trap of attempting and failing to change everything at once.

Get the right piece in the jigsaw and you will turn potential into performance – quickly

Shape team cohesion Senior hires are often confronted by resistance from their new team. Why? Resentment and jealousy from those who didn’t get the job and fear of change that might threaten vested interests. Senior hires who succeed have the emotional intelligence to co-opt missioncritical teamers quickly while swiftly rooting out toxics and saboteurs. Putting together a strong, united and multi-talented team quickly lies at the heart of senior hire success.

Create stakeholder alignment Senior hires frequently enter highly political, fractious environments riven by secret agendas and self-interest. Smart senior hires quickly map their stakeholder needs and motives, understanding where they can generate mutuality and reciprocity rather than conflict. They are effective at getting key opinionformers and resource holders onside through win-win solutions so they can move things forward quickly.

Optimise personal impact Finally, smart senior hires are conscious that first impressions make lasting ones. In the early stages of their appointment they recognise their every word, gesture and deed will be judged and analysed. They actively seek to convey a sense of authenticity, humanity, courage and discipline in their dealings with others, which generate a climate of trust – the most important component of successful leadership. So if that’s what smart senior hires do, what can your organisation do to speed up senior hire delivery?

“Rather than leaving the senior hire to their own devices or the mercy of the organisation, companies should accelerate their performance through precise immersion coupled with targeted transitional coaching”

Precise onboarding According to Egon Zendher’s research, less than one-third (30%) of senior hires believe they receive meaningful support during their transition into a new organisation. However, four-fifths (80%) of those who do think it makes a real difference! Let’s face it, in our sector most senior hire immersion is derisory and unprofessional – a tick box, sink or swim exercise! I would suggest recruiting organisations should put accelerated, precise onboarding programmes in place built around the “big six tasks” listed above to ensure their expensive new hires deliver quicker. How? Plan, facilitate, monitor and measure how senior hires achieve strategic clarity, operational grip, cultural insight, team cohesion, stakeholder alignment and optimal personal impact within their first 90 days. Support, challenge and stretch the senior hire to achieve these “big six tasks” quickly.



Accelerated transitional coaching In addition to a more precise onboarding programme, expert transitional coaching that focuses on the “big six tasks” will accelerate senior hire performance. Coaching is often perceived as a soft, woolly intervention – but if the coach focuses on the “big six”, raising levels of awareness and accountability while helping resolve interference, senior hires will stand a far higher chance of success. In summary, there’s a lot of change at the top in our industry as it remodels itself to face some pretty challenging headwinds. New people are being drafted in with recruiters hoping and expecting they’ll make an immediate impact. What I would argue is companies need to first understand what factors lie behind senior hire success – the “big six tasks” outlined above are a good start. Second, rather than leaving the senior hire to their own devices or the mercy of the organisation, they should accelerate their performance through precise immersion coupled with targeted transitional coaching. If it works, you have turned senior hire potential into performance quickly. If it doesn’t, you’ve found out earlier rather than later that you’ve got the wrong person!

Professor Chris Edger is a lecturer, coach and multiple author on multisite franchising, branded and service leadership

See differently, see everything, see it all now with TaholaCloud



All your people. All your data. Every insight imaginable. Subscription based Business Analytics for the Hospitality Industry.

Contact us on 01442 211122, email or visit to see how we can help you and your business.

Our hospitality team is a fast growing, forward thinking group of accountants and tax advisers who understand the specific needs of clients in the hospitality sector We can offer assistance in all areas including: DXGLW DQG DVVXUDQFH FRUSRUDWH ¿QDQFH due diligence • EIS • EMI • PAYE restructuring • VAT • tax compliance

Contact Andrew Ball 020 7969 5530 Gareth Ogden 020 7969 5507 Author of the annual haysmacintyre UK Hospitality Index in association with Propel

Jessica Powell 020 7969 5607 Mark Shewring 020 7969 5583 @haysmacintyre haysmacintyre

Market-leading insights Mark Wingett looks at highlights from the second Restaurant Marketer & Innovator European Summit KAM Media insight director Blake Gladman


Hospitality blogger and author Kamila Sitwell


amila Sitwell, leading hospitality blogger and author of Bespoke, told delegates there are so many concepts and restaurants in the market, customers are finding it harder to find reasons to return to a specific restaurant. She said: “Great food is no longer good enough. Customers want more. They are looking for bespoke, relevant experiences, which are all around them. They are taking the power away from chefs, operators and big corporates and they demand experiences orchestrated around them. Whether we call it bespoke, personalised or customised, there is no onesized customer expectation any more. Bespoke customisation is driving every industry. The customer is in control. Take the movie Black Mirror, you can even decide how the movie is going to end. Today customisation isn’t a privilege, it’s a customer’s right and expectation.” Sitwell said we are operating in a new economic era in which all businesses must “orchestrate memorable events

for customers where the memory itself becomes the product”. She said: “Our customers don’t want the mass-market, cookiecutter approach, the attitude is ‘I want it my way and there’s no one like me’. Joe & The Juice understands this. Going there is like going to the doctors – you’re asked how you feel and Joe & The Juice tailors the product to you, how personal is that? The experience economy has landed on your plate and it’s the main course you can’t afford to leave off your menu. According to a Deloitte survey, more than 50% of consumers are looking at ways for you to empower them. Bespoke must become your product in terms of company culture (experiences begin and end with you); employees (the greatest asset in delivery of experience); customer service (it’s all about relationships, not marketing); elevated food and drink (multisensory delights); staged physical assets (storytelling and occasionmatching through design); and technology and marketing (bespoke communication and operational efficiency).”

nsight director Blake Gladman revealed findings from exclusive research KAM Media and Think Hospitality carried out into the customer journey. The report – From Plan To Plate – surveyed 1,000 consumers across the UK. Gladman said: “We wanted to look at every decision and point on the consumer journey and how they are influenced. We came up with 200 touch points for every person. For example, looking at how far ahead people plan to eat out, we found 18 to 34-year-olds plan 2.9 days ahead while 35 to 44-year-olds take 4.3 days. We also looked at the type of event and its impact on party size and spend. For example, New Year’s Eve was top for size and spend while Valentine’s Day was fifth biggest spending-wise. The five top factors that influenced where people go

to eat were location, how easy it was to get there, cuisine style, atmosphere and word of mouth. We also found one in three consumers are influenced to choose a particular venue by how “photogenic the dishes are”. The research also highlighted more than two-fifths (42%) of people knew what they were going to order before arriving at the venue, with almost onequarter (24%) changing their mind when they got there due to food envy or staff influence. The four biggest turn-offs when eating out all revolved around waiting – for a table to become available, for someone to take your order, for your order to arrive, and for the bill to arrive. We found one in three would be interested in pre-paying for their meal, which rose to one in two for 18 to 34-year-olds.” ▲

“The four biggest turn-offs when eating out all revolved around waiting – for a table to become available, for someone to take your order, for your order to arrive, and for the bill to arrive”

“The experience economy has landed on your plate and it’s the main course you can’t afford to leave off your menu” SPRING 2019 SUMMER QUARTERLY


Livit chief executive Ben Calleja


en Calleja, chief executive of restaurant design company Livit, spoke about his restaurant concept 1889, described as the “Amazon Go of restaurants”, and how artificial intelligence is driving sales. Calleja launched 1889 Fast Fine Pizza in Stockholm in 2017 offering an unusual mix of fine dining and quick service. Customers get their meal in minutes but have to order at the counter from a limited pizza and salad menu created by a Michelin-starred chef. The concept also employs sensors usually found in stadiums or shopping malls that analyse crowds and their movement. Calleja said: “At 1889, the outdoor sensors track passers-by and calculate the restaurant’s capture rate while also tracking returning customers. Using all this data and comparing it with factors such as weather, holidays and city events, the

algorithm can accurately predict traffic, optimum food stock and the kitchen crew’s schedule on any given day. Since the sensors can track how people move around the pizzeria, it’s possible to analyse where guests prefer to sit in the morning, at lunch or in the evening on different days of the week. Based on this analysis, the restaurant team changes table settings during the day to reach optimum capacity. Music is also controlled by an algorithm that finds the best playlist and tweaks the mix to suit the mood. In general the more diners, the louder and more active the music becomes to get customers moving. Music slows to let people stay longer and enjoy upsold products such as desserts or drinks. Artificial scents are introduced based on experiments and computer analysis, which pick the best scent for each daypart to drive traffic and sales. During one experiment a change from wood-fire scent to fresh basil led to a 13% increase in salad sales. Lighting at the venue changes throughout the day based on information from sensors to make the restaurant more attractive to people passing by. When it’s sunny nobody wants to go into a cave and when it’s dark outside being too bright can also discourage people. We’re also able to understand behaviour patterns within the restaurant across the day, which has been traditionally the domain of the general manager, but now we have an algorithm that sends that message to managers. The beauty is that all this is invisible to the guest. We are also 18% up in year-onyear sales every month.”

“Artificial scents are introduced based on experiments and computer analysis, which pick the best scent for each daypart” 52

Panel session on the startup journey hosted by Chris Miller, of the White Rabbit Fund


hris Miller, of the White Rabbit Fund, hosted a panel session reflecting on the startup journey. The panel featured James Hennebry, of Rosslyn Coffee; Yasmine Larizadeh, of The Good Life Eatery; Rik Campbell, of Kricket; and Loui Blake, of Kalifornia Kitchen. In terms of marketing, Larizadeh said Instagram helped launch The Good Life Eatery and shape it for consumers. She said: “Keeping it light-hearted, interactive and face-to-face with consumers really

“If you can’t afford to create content, asking someone to document their experience is a really good way to kickstart people talking about and visiting your business”

worked. Instagram is free and direct to your consumers and, being off the beaten path in terms of our first location, helped us immensely. Our largest following is in the US, the third-largest is in Brazil so it’s huge for us. If it wasn’t for Instagram, I don’t think the majority of companies that started up over the past few years would have survived.” Campbell, however, reiterated word of mouth was still important. He said: “The amount of customers who come in and know what to order because their friends have tweeted or texted them to try these things is significant.” Blake said using influencers had been huge for Kalifornia Kitchen. He said: “If you can’t afford to create content, asking someone to document their experience is a really good way to kick-start people talking about and visiting your business. The venue and offer has to be set out to take advantage of that – making every table a photo studio.”

Carbon Free Dining head of partnerships Richard Dickson


ichard Dickson, head of partnerships at Carbon Free Dining, looked at the increasing role of sustainability and how it can drive staff and customer engagement without hitting profits. He told delegates: “Consumers are more informed about the world around them, more engaged and demanding – but that provides an opportunity for savvy brands. Consumers are building brand loyalty on shared values. It’s not the number of interactions a buyer has with your brand but the quality and relatability of the interaction. Wagamama is one company that has embraced this and looked at many ways to become a more sustainable business and create a more sustainable relationship with its diners. Examples include turning one million litres of used oil into bio-diesel and saving 28


million litres of water by installing a clever water-regulating system. Wagamama’s sustainability programme has also led to financial benefits. People think sustainability costs profits, but it doesn’t. Working with more than 50 UK restaurants, Carbon Free Dining has found acting on sustainable issues has helped the brands enhance diner experience and increase staff and social media engagement – and it provides priceless PR too.” ▲

“Wagamama’s sustainability programme has also led to financial benefits. People think sustainability costs profits, but it doesn’t”


Booking a table online is now the favoured way of making a reservation, according to the latest GO Technology report from Zonal. Research by Zonal and CGA of 5,000 UK adult consumers shows that 45% of consumers prefer to make their booking online, compared to just 20% who use the telephone.


of consumers prefer to make their booking online

This is a radical change from four years ago, when well over half (58%) of consumers preferred to make table bookings by telephone.

=RQDO¡V FRPPHUFLDO GLUHFWRU 'DYLG &KDUOWRQ VDLG “We live in a digital age, where consumers expect to make reservations on the go 24/7 from their mobile device and they are not keen on phoning a venue to do so.â€?

For almost half (49%) of those planning to go out for a drink or bite to eat, the ability to pre-book is important. And payback for brands that offer a good online booking service is proven, as the average monthly spend on eating and drinking increases to Â… FRPSDUHG WR MXVW Â… IRU WKRVH WKDW GRQ¡W SUH ERRN


of those planning to go out for a drink or bite to eat, the ability to pre-book is important

However, brands do need to make sure they fulfil the expectations of those that have pre-booked. The biggest complaint for pre-bookers is a table not being available at the time they booked (37%), closely followed by having to queue to get in (35%) and spaces or tables being occupied when they arrive (34%).


The biggest complaint for pre-bookers is a table not being available at the time they booked

Being asked to pay a deposit for a booking is also a source of irritation for customers, with one in five (21%) citing this as a major annoyance, which rises to 25% for 18 to 34 year olds.

one in five

cite being asked to pay a deposit for a booking as a major source of irritation

When it comes to group bookings, GO Technology suggests they are more prepared to pay a deposit. Consumers in a group of fewer than eight say they are willing to pay an average of ÂŁ4.55 per head for a midweek restaurant table, but those in larger groups will pay ÂŁ6.04, indicating an acceptance that as the group size increases so should the deposit.

“We recognise there is an industry wide issue of no-shows, so requesting a deposit is one way of tackling the problem. However, ask for too much and consumers may go elsewhere and ask for too little and the risk of no-shows increases,� DGGHG 'DYLG

When asked what they would like to see when booking, the number one consumer choice is the ability to reserve a specific table, booth or area (42%). Getting their favourite space or a table with a view is more likely to leave guests satisfied with their visit, and more likely to return. When asked what they would like to see when booking,

the number one

consumer choice is the ability to reserve a specific table, booth or area

Panel session on future leaders chaired by UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls


haired by UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls, a panel consisting of Anthony Knight, managing director of Elliotts; Claire Small, senior commercial manager of SSP; Be At One brand manager Giles Denning; and Stacey Plaine, senior marketing manager food and beverage at Marriott UK, was asked why the sector struggles to promote a positive image. Small said: “In my experience, at university career days there was no big hospitality presence but a lot of the major FMCG businesses were there. HR teams

have to focus on site-by-site recruitment, not on the bigger picture.” Denning said: “You need to advertise your culture and understand what a 19-year-old wants from their life. What makes your culture stand out to them?” Knight said: “We spend so much time marketing to customers we don’t spend enough time marketing to our own people, who are our greatest asset. For a long time marketing was seen as the

Celia Pronto, chief customer and digital officer at Casual Dining Group


elia Pronto, chief customer and digital officer at Casual Dining Group (CDG), which operates Bella Italia, Café Rouge and Las Iguanas, spoke about transferring a brand from the inside using employee engagement. She said: “I’m a firm believer strong brands can’t exist without having strong teams to deliver them, particularly when you are in a service industry. We are a brand-led business with more than 8,000 employees. Three years ago we were pretty much like everyone else when engaging with teams, we’d send out messages but had no system or metrics to see who read them so we had no idea whether those comms were landing. We had multiple channels such as noticeboards and intranet so there was no consistency. That approach left us siloed with a lot of top-down communication. Employee engagement wasn’t where we wanted it to be. We weren’t empowering our teams or giving them the framework to help them deliver key messages. As a result, we didn’t have the employee loyalty we were looking for and the proof was in our staff

turnover stats. The objective for us was to find one platform everyone could use across the business to help them love working for CDG and their brand. We also wanted something that would allow employees to stand out, whether through the way they posted content or shared information. We wanted to help our staff be more individual. We also wanted something that could be instant and dynamic but also allowed us to reward staff. At the time Workplace was just entering the market and it ticked a number of boxes. We wanted something familiar to our staff (Facebook), something inherently social, easy to implement and secure for data that provided excellent analytics. It didn’t happen overnight but it has become a way of life for the people in the business and has grown organically. We now have a good level of engagement. We wanted people to be part of the journey and not force this on them, which gave them confidence to engage. Has it worked? We believe so and it has totally changed the way CDG works and had a positive impact on staff turnover levels.”

“I’m a firm believer strong brands can’t exist without having strong teams to deliver them, particularly when you are in a service industry” 54

‘colouring-in department’, now it’s seen as the glue that holds departments and functions together. We are responsible as marketers to communicate what the business is doing and attract new talent. We need to attract out-of-sector talent. We have to be more creative. Look at sport, it does an amazing job getting people interested and goes right down to the grass roots with amazing ambassadors.”

TGI Friday’s chief marketing officer Steve Flanagan


GI Friday’s chief marketing officer Steve Flanagan told delegates each member of the company’s circa 5,000 staff was marketing the business. He said: “I joined the brand at the end of 2017 and a lot needed changing. The brand was born in New York in 1965 but we never told anyone that. We looked at updating our app to be much more loyalty and points based. From a standing start we have 300,000 users and, of that, 10% of our sales are coming from people scanning through the app. Getting one more visit from people on the app would be worth £12m of revenue, those are our most loyal guests so that’s where we are concentrating a lot of time and focus. We also rebuilt the website from scratch and refreshed our brand proposition. We wanted to talk more about the experiential nature of the brand. We wanted to challenge perceptions of the brand with things such as 'Go Fridarian'. Last year was tough for casual dining and for us as a brand – we started to do a lot of soul-searching. We looked at the metrics that matter and started to track ‘positive buzz’. During the course of last year we saw our positive buzz had gone backwards. We gave Morar


two years of sales data and asked what was the key metric having an impact. Morar discovered it was positive buzz and we found a 1% shift in that positive buzz drives £4.7m of revenue. That is what is driving the brand and what we are building on in 2019 – we are looking to enhance a positive. So how do we bring this to life? Our role is being the party host so we have to deliver an outstanding experience in our restaurants every time. From top to bottom there is now one metric we focus on – positive buzz – and we are building a metric to do this. We need to create positive moments to get people and media engaging with and talking about the unique Friday’s experience. At the same time, we need to get more people knowing about the good we do as a responsible and ethical business. What’s really critical is we are in the people business serving food and drink.”

“Our role is being the party host so we have to deliver an outstanding experience in our restaurants every time”

Panel discussion on building strong links between marketing and operations chaired by Elliotts chief executive Ann Elliott


nn Elliott, chief executive of sector agency Elliotts, led a panel session with Abokado managing director Kara Alderin, The Seafood Pub Company founder Joycelyn Neve and Arc Inspirations chief executive Martin Wolstencroft on building strong links between marketing and operations. Wolstencroft said: “Ideally operations and marketing need to sit together. For successful marketing implementation both teams need to be on board from the start and buy into the same vision, and it needs to be delivered with great execution.” Neve said: “Each of our pubs are individual so the marketing function centrally is to support each one. Some of the teams are creative and others not so much so it’s a different relationship with each one.” Alderin said: “The roles used to be very different but they are progressively merging into one. I would say 70% to 80% of our roles have become joined up. One of the major learnings for our teams has been activating marketing at a local level. You have to get people to understand where the ideas come from so joining up the teams is vital.” Wolstencroft said: “You are trying to protect your brand and it’s difficult if a team member gets that wrong so we have a rule that staff members don’t take photos of food or drink but use

images we have signed off on.” Neve said: “That would be difficult for us because of how much the menus change and a third of the menu in each site is controlled by its own team. We have to trust them to be able to take their own pictures and post them. You have to nurture confidence and give them the right skills.” When it comes to who marketing departments should report into, Neve said: “It’s a bit of a round

“There needs to be a team and if you haven’t got an operations team behind an idea, it won’t be delivered”

table. You want new ideas and creativity but there has to be a sense check at some point.” Wolstencroft said: “There needs to be a team and if you haven’t got an operations team behind an idea, it won’t be delivered. Everyone needs to be on board to drive it through so they need to report into the managing director or chief executive so it has accountability.” Alderin said: “For us it’s a combination of finance, marketing and operations, which keeps us all focused on each other’s functions. We find that triangular approach works.”

Panel discussion on winning at proposition and product development hosted by Think Hospitality managing director James Hacon


hink Hospitality managing director James Hacon talked to Wagamama UK marketing director Andre Johnstone, YO! Sushi marketing director Luisa Fernandez and Yummy Pubs head of being awesome Tim Foster about winning at proposition and product development. Regarding the role marketing plays in defining proposition and product, Johnstone said: “Traditionally we always thought marketing was the ideas department and then you pushed it out, everyone else did what you needed and, if your chief executive bought into it, everything seemed to work. Now the world has changed and we have to think about the whole business and creating innovation and excitement around new ideas. We have to create the permission for people to have input in what you do to move the proposition forward.” Fernandez said: “Traditionally, if you were a service

environment it was about people delivering the service. We are now much better marketers, especially on a smaller budget than in sectors I was previously in. It used to be about product and service, that service can sit anywhere now, especially online, and everyone in the business needs to understand that and

their involvement in it. We also have to recognise that as a marketing function we are not an island but need to incorporate all parts of the business, especially operations. We still have a long way to go but we’re definitely improving. However, everyone in the business needs to be behind it.” Foster said: “Implementation is key. I work in the sites once a month to understand what annoys our staff, to see how we can do stuff better for them. You make the asset sweat and get return on investment. Our people are now in control of the development of our products. We now have innovation teams. They are more engaged and buy into it at ground level and take responsibility.”

“We have to recognise that as a marketing function we are not an island but need to incorporate all parts of the business, especially operations” SUMMER 2019 SUMMER QUARTERLY


Feature Insight

Consumers retain appetite for eating out

Elliotts chief executive Ann Elliott looks at the agency’s third annual survey, which investigates the thought processes of diners when they choose where to eat out


estaurant operators are looking to bounce back following a tough Easter period that saw the public head outdoors to enjoy the sunshine. Operators will be looking to gain momentum for summer trading that, for some, will benefit from comparison with last year’s Fifa World Cup. We know from experience operators appreciate insight into how they can create demand (and momentum) for their brand, especially in challenging times, so in 2017 our insight and strategy team instigated a major piece of research into how diners make decisions. This has since been used by many clients as a blueprint to develop their offer. How Diners Make Decisions 2019 is Elliotts’ third annual survey, investigating the thought processes diners use when choosing where to eat out. Much has changed in the intervening period so, two years on, we have partnered with guest experience management experts HGEM to repeat this research to understand how regular diners (97% had dined in the past month versus 64% in 2017) make decisions in terms of their eating out journey. We also weighted the survey in favour of females (71% versus 50% in 2017) because we strongly believe women are the more dominant


decision-makers when it comes to dining. This year we interviewed 462 diners, almost half (48%) of them millennials, about their restaurant customer journey. We still define this journey as consisting of five steps – interest, research, booking, dining and sharing. By analysing our results relating to each step of the journey, we can identify areas where potential improvements might make a significant impact on covers and repeat visits. We begin our journey at “interest”, looking at what prompted diners’ decisions to visit a particular restaurant. Word of mouth remains dominant at this stage as more than onethird (34%) of consumers had the restaurant recommended by friends or colleagues. Word of mouth sparks more interest than vouchers (16%), social media adverts (5%) and traditional advertising such as billboards and posters (2%) combined. It also appears within this sample that most decisions are made inside the household, with more than one-quarter (28%) deciding to visit at home versus 15% on the go and 10% at work. When visiting a restaurant for the first time, these regular diners conduct similar research to our 2017 sample – two-thirds (67%) check the food menu (a 3% rise on 2017) and less than ▲


“Word of mouth sparks more interest than vouchers (16%), social media adverts (5%) and traditional advertising such as billboards and posters (2%) combined”

Crisps as they should taste. Voted Winners of BEST SNACK BRAND six times by readers of Fine Food Digest Winners of 42 Great Taste Awards since 2007

Feature Insight

“Developing a slick, visually appealing website and online menu is still the most important factor in turning ‘leads’ into covers”

half (49%) look at the restaurant’s website. Developing a slick, visually appealing website and online menu is still the most important factor in turning “leads” into covers. Unsurprisingly, this group of regular diners is less price sensitive, with fewer than half (49%) looking into food pricing, a reduction of 9% compared with 2017. This group is more inclined to look at online reviews when visiting a new venue (4% rise on 2017) so keeping on top of your reviews will have more of an influence on this group. In our survey, less than half (48%) of respondents hadn’t bothered to book their table on their last restaurant visit. This is 11% down on 2017 but the trend for not booking is still prominent and it remains important venues are well equipped to accommodate walk-ins and spontaneous, casual visits. Of those who booked, 48% booked online through the restaurant’s website or by using a third-party site. A surprisingly large sample (45%) still booked over the phone.

Regular diners The decisions made by regular diners are less likely to be sparked by a special occasion (only 17% visited for a special occasion versus 30% in 2017). These guests are informal, with casual occasions and unplanned meals dominating visits (68% versus 47%). The most important part of any customer journey is when they join you in your venue. Indeed, there was a time when this was considered the only important part of running a restaurant! Unsurprisingly, regular diners still expect certain traditional aspects of service such as being greeted at the door (86%) and being shown to their seat (83%). What was more surprising is only 78% of those surveyed were greeted on arrival and 74% shown to their seat. A difference of 10% between expectations and reality in these basic fields will leave managers shaking their heads. When exploring the menu, almost one-third (32%) of regular diners asked questions about the restaurant’s menu and dishes for recommendation but only 18% agreed a staff member had an impact on what they ordered (a reduction of 14% versus 2017). Ensuring front-of-house teams have a clear knowledge and understanding of the menu can help drive diners’ decisions in what they order, as these consumers seem to be actively looking for a recommendation. While there is certainly a rise in demand for experiential dining experiences and visually appealing “Instagrammable” venues, food quality is still the most important factor for consumers when considering overall value for money – even more so for this group of diners. Almost all (98%) of those surveyed said this – versus 86% in 2017 – and customer service ranks a close second (91% versus 80% in 2017). Interior decor was important to almost two-fifths (37%) of respondents, behind cleanliness, speed of service, presentation


of food, authenticity of food, menu range and several other factors. These are turbulent times in the industry and restaurant groups have been scratching their heads on how they can differentiate. These findings should reassure operators that doing the basics well will pay dividends – we don’t need to reinvent the wheel to be successful.

Word of mouth For almost two-fifths (39%) of respondents their journey ended at this point as they chose not to share their experience at all. For those who did share, word of mouth remains most popular as 50% will tell their friends and family, although this is a 12% reduction from our previous sample. In addition, only 8% post on social media versus 22% in the 2017 sample. The findings suggest it takes more for these regular diners to share their experiences. Converting this casual group into brand ambassadors is a huge opportunity for restaurants. By offering guests who successfully refer their friends a reward, operators can increase the chance guests will share their experience. Moreover, we needn’t ask them to go through the lengthy process of writing a review as word of mouth is the most effective means of generating interest. This doesn’t take a lot of effort and is an easily measurable strategy for generating interest in your establishment. By simply telling customers their word of mouth recommendations hold sway, you empower them as marketers for your business and, by rewarding their successful recommendations, you are building a loyal and vocal following. A topic I find myself increasingly discussing with clients is the rise in food halls such as Boxpark, Dinerama and Mackie Mayor, to name a few. This year we added a new question to tap into consumer use of these venues and found a third had visited at least one. I’ll be interested to see how this increases next year. We also asked consumers to compare their food hall experience versus restaurants and found these venues outperformed restaurants in speed of service and value for money. However, the atmosphere and overall experience of a traditional restaurant is preferred. Despite tough times in the industry, this group of diners are resilient – more than four-fifths (82%) believe they will eat out either the same amount or more in the next 12 months, an increase of 10% on the 2017 sample. That’s really great news for the industry as a whole.

Ann Elliott is chief executive of Elliotts, the leading integrated marketing agency in the hospitality and leisure sector –




Our secure mobile messaging platform has been designed to help hospitality companies organise, engage, and lead their teams at scale. We love to chat - you’ll find us at the next Propel event or drop us a line at

Proud to be working with:





Beware the PC police If changes to the Portman Group’s code sees it protect people not just from being harmed but from being offended by beer advertising and marketing, the industry faces subjective judgments and never-ending criticism, argues Paul Chase


he Portman Group recently revised its “Code of Practice on the Naming, Packaging and Promotion of Alcoholic Drinks”. It’s important the drinks industry selfregulates to support moderate drinking and responsible retailing. Part of this is how the industry markets and advertises its products. Self-regulation bodies have to walk a thin tightrope and I acknowledge how difficult it is to get the balance right between satisfying the critics and allowing the industry reasonable freedom in which to operate. Many of the changes in the new code are sensible but others are mistaken and will be regretted by the Portman Group and industry alike. I support the idea of a “unit-based” definition of immoderate drinking, that advertising shouldn’t link alcohol with illegal behaviour, and alcohol should be advertised in a manner that protects vulnerable people. However, I have concerns over new provisions in the code I’ve listed below.

Mood and behaviour The Portman Group has amended the code to prevent alcohol being offered on the basis it can change mood or behaviour. This seems mistaken to me as ethyl alcohol – the intoxicating chemical compound in all beverage alcohol products – is a central nervous system depressant that does alter mood. Consumed in moderate quantities it stimulates the endorphin system and can


enhance mood and sociability – that’s one of the main reasons people drink alcohol. One of the earliest signs of mild intoxication is the drinker becomes disinhibited because alcohol depresses the part of the brain that controls inhibition. This is the physiological basis of the subjective experience of “getting merry” and explains why many people use alcohol as a mild social lubricant. To deny brand-owners the right to market beverage alcohol products on that basis is denying them the right to say something that’s obviously true and simply confirms the everyday experience of millions of drinkers. Saying we can’t market beverage alcohol products on the basis moderate use enhances mood is tantamount to saying we can’t tell drinkers drinking is pleasurable.

Immoderate consumption The Portman Group seeks to define “immoderate consumption” as drinking more than four units of alcohol in one session. Four units is the equivalent of two pints of a 3.5% ABV session beer. Here’s the calculation – 568ml x 4 x 0.001 = 1.988 units x 2 pints = 3.976 units. Put simply, I don’t believe if a person drinks, say, three pints of beer on a night out they are an “immoderate drinker” and I doubt such a definition would attract support from most drinkers. The chief medical officers’ guidelines are “low-risk” guidelines and in January 2016 they were revised downwards to 14


units a week for men and women. The guidelines advise drinkers who wish to keep their consumption “low risk” not to regularly consume more than 14 units a week spread over three days or, under the previous guidelines, three to four units a day for men or two to three units for women. It doesn’t logically follow if a person drinks more than, say, four units (two pints of beer) in one session they are drinking immoderately. I would suggest immoderate drinking is a level of regular consumption above which the drinker’s risk of premature mortality from all causes rises above that of “never drinkers”.

“Saying we can’t market beverage alcohol products on the basis moderate use enhances mood is tantamount to saying we can’t tell drinkers drinking is pleasurable” Numerous studies have found a J-shaped relationship between light-tomoderate alcohol consumption and death from all causes (all-cause mortality). The most well known of these is the metaanalysis conducted in 2006 by Augusto Di Castelnuovo et al, which aggregated the results of 34 prospective studies involving 1.2 million people in eight countries, the ▲

Opinion Men

Relative Risk of Total Mortality

Women Confidence Intervals

Drinks Per Day Alcohol Consumption findings of which are illustrated in the graph above: What the curve above illustrates is that at very low levels of consumption the risk for moderate drinkers of all-cause mortality is less than that of never drinkers, represented by the horizontal straight line. Above a certain level of consumption the risk of dying from all causes rises above that of never drinkers. That level is four US “standard drinks” per day for men and two-and-a-half standard drinks per day for women. In the US a “standard drink” is the equivalent of 1.7 UK units of alcohol so four standard drinks a day represents 6.8 UK units of alcohol consumption for men and two and a half standard drinks equates to 4.25 units a day of alcohol consumption for women. Above this level a drinker is exposed to higher levels of risk from allcause mortality than a never drinker. I do query the narrative suggesting three to five units is the level above which the risk of all-cause mortality rises above that of never drinkers and I wonder whether the Portman Group is confusing the British concept of “units” and the American concept of “standard drinks”? As stated above, a standard drink is the equivalent of 1.7 units of alcohol. It seems to me, therefore, a cautious definition of immoderate drinking would be to set the threshold at six units in one session, equivalent to about three pints of beer for men and four units (about two pints) for women.

are “honest, decent and legal”. I don’t see why the Portman Group would want to gold-plate other regulatory activity in this way? It comes across as virtue signalling. The real driver of this renewed concern over “offence” is advertising and marketing that is deemed sexist. There are numerous instances of beer adverts, for example, depicting women in a stereotypical way that invites sexual objectification. Some people are offended by such images, others merely amused. To me this form of marketing is lazy and unimaginative and speaks to a blokish beer-drinking culture that isn’t likely to appeal to women drinkers, who are particularly important if the beer category is to return to growth. However, it seems to me the use of such imagery is a matter for commercial decision-making, not regulation. There are two philosophical reasons why – free speech and private property rights. I don’t believe free speech is a licence to communicate in a manner that’s deliberately offensive or derogatory, any more than I think it an acceptable use of free speech to shout “fire” in the middle of a crowded nightclub. However, the

Widespread offence I don’t think it’s wise to have amended the code to protect individuals and/or groups from “serious or widespread offence”. The Portman Group’s code has historically been about protecting public health and safety. We cross an important line if we extend the code to protect people not just from being harmed but from being offended. The Advertising Standards Authority and the UK Code of NonBroadcast Advertising already deal with these issues in terms of ensuring adverts



proposition an industry self-regulation body should censor what an advert says on the basis it offends current notions of “decency” imposes a tyranny of language that restricts free speech in an unjustified way. In relation to property rights, brand images are a form of private property (intellectual property) and brand owners have invested vast sums of money in the images of their products. It should be up to brand owners what values they seek to depict via these images. If an image is sexist and offensive and enough people feel that way, sales of the product will fall and the brand owner has a commercial decision to make. In any case, advertising has moved with the times without a need for restrictive regulation. Adverts from the 1950s included sexist phrases such as “There are only two things a man can't resist... a pint and another pint“ and “don't worry darling, you didn't burn the beer“! I think it’s inconceivable these images would appear today but a modern advert links a well-known beer with the word “Pride” and the phrase “if you’re that way inclined”. Is this homophobic and likely to cause widespread offence? Is it a suitable case for Portman Group censorship? The proposition that “offence” can morph into “harm” because, for example, sexist images encourage the sexual objectification of women to their social detriment is like the argument violent films desensitise people and lead to an increase in violence. The logical outcome of that argument is the “Bambification” of imagery in films and branding alike. Once we accept offence can be equated to harm, anti-alcohol activists will pile in – witness the committee of young people Alcohol Change UK (formerly Alcohol Concern) uses to find adverts that might, in its view, be deliberately aimed at underage drinkers. And how will the Portman Group decide where the line is drawn? Will advertisers be forced to move from an image of a bikini-clad blonde to one of Bambi? From a broader, societal perspective I believe the growing trend towards protecting people from offence leads directly to an erosion of free speech, intolerance of differences of opinion and to the sort of “no-platforming” we have seen adopted at some universities. For the Portman Group to set itself up as the “PC police” takes away from the central message that alcohol must not be marketed in a way that compromises public safety and into a world of controversy, conflicting subjective judgments and a never-ending storm of criticism. ■

Paul Chase is director of CPL Training and a leading commentator on alcohol and health policy

Buying or selling your business? Our extensive knowledge and hospitality sector expertise JLYHV \RX WKH FRQÌ°GHQFH to take your next step.

Business. Built around you.


Contact: 020 7227 0778

MYSTERY.CO.UK / Tel 020 7046 6111 @brandsbymystery


Visits down, spend up Forecasting how the British foodservice industry will look at the end of 2020 will be a lot easier than competing in Monty Python’s All-England Summarise Proust Competition, says The NPD Group’s Dominic Allport


hose of a certain age might recall Monty Python’s All-England Summarize Proust Competition held at the Arthur Ludlow Memorial Baths, Newport. Participants were required to give a summary of Marcel Proust’s novel À La Recherche Du Temps Perdu (In Search Of Lost Time). The catch wasn’t that contestants had to perform their summary once in a swimsuit and once in evening dress, the problem was the summary had to be completed in only 15 seconds. Proust’s novel runs to seven volumes and more than 1.25 million words so any attempt at a neat summary encounters a certain degree of difficulty. But anybody pressed to provide a pithy

summary of how the British foodservice industry will fare between now and the end of 2020 would probably be right if they said: “Visits down, spend up.” Of course there’s plenty of detail and some major structural trends behind those four key words. The pressures affecting on-premise eating and drinking is a big theme in British foodservice. Trends such as the continued expansion of delivery and the growth of drive-thru from its current small base reflect a big change in how we live our lives. Then there’s the growth of appbased orders, but our data tells us the big picture is “visits down, spend up”. We definitely see visits in the British outof-home (OOH) foodservice market sliding

in 2019 and 2020. The market peaked at 11.35 billion visits in 2017 but dropped 0.5% to 11.29 billion in 2018. Despite population growth of 0.6% per annum, there will be a further drop of 0.5% in 2019 and another 0.1% in 2020 to reach 11.23 billion visits. In total, this represents a decline of 65 million visits by 2020. By contrast, we predict a 5.0% increase in spend to £59.47bn by the end of 2020 versus £56.62bn for 2018. This will be largely driven by operators increasing menu prices as they respond to cost pressures – not only inflation but also a result of consumers buying more items per order. The average individual cheque reached £5.00 in 2018 and will rise 5.6% by 2020 to £5.30. ▲

OOH visits (bn) – actual and projected 11,350



OOH spend (£bn) – actual and projected

11,320 11,290




58.03 11,233


11,226 55.20 53.65












Insight “On-premise spend is likely to increase marginally – but mainly as a result of operators increasing menu prices”

The NPD Group: British foodservice visits and spend outlook 2019, 2020 On-premise = food and drinks consumed where purchased Off premise = delivery, takeaway/grab and go and drive-thru 2018 actual

2019 forecast

2020 forecast




On-premise under pressure

On-premise visits (billion)

A key trend in British foodservice is the decline of the on-premise sector (food and drink consumed where purchased) versus off-premise (delivery, takeaway/grab and go, and drive-thru). This is the result of the long-term decline in retail footfall as more shoppers make purchases online. One-fifth of all retail purchases now occur online. In the eating out market this figure is lower, at 5.3% of all visits, but is growing rapidly. The on-premise market peaked at 4.58 billion visits in 2016 but dropped in the following two years. It’s predicted to lose a further 8% by the end of 2020 versus 2018 to reach 4.02 billion visits. On-premise spend is likely to increase marginally – but mainly as a result of operators increasing menu prices.

Off-premise visits (billion)




Total OOH visits (billion)




On-premise spend (£bn)




Modest growth for takeaway/ grab and go We predict a better performance in the off-premise sector, with visits reaching 7.21 billion by the end of 2020 (4% higher than 2018) and spend jumping 10% to £27.87bn. Because takeaway and grab and go currently contribute such a high percentage (83%) of off-premise visits, even low growth makes a difference. Our forecast is for takeaway and grab-and-go visits to increase 1.6% and spend 6% by the end of 2020. A generation ago, grab and go might have stretched little further than a

Off-premise spend (£bn)




Total OOH spend (£bn)




sausage roll, bag of chips, cheeseburger, sandwich or cream bun. Today’s offerings inject innovation, portability and ease of consumption across a huge range of international hot and cold cuisines to create exciting meals, snacks and beverages for any daypart. There’s no doubt foodservice operators are grasping the grab-andgo opportunity by offering increasingly appetising and healthy options.

Fast growth for delivery The foodservice industry will ramp up delivery and invest in drive-thru as an additional way to respond to the high street’s decline. Foodservice operators have been adopting a multi-channel approach to become as convenient and accessible as possible. We forecast consumers will spend 22% more on delivery by the end of 2020 to create a market worth £5.8bn a year. The number of delivery visits will jump 17% or 127 million

by the end of 2020 to reach 882 million. The delivery market currently accounts for 11% of all off-premise foodservice visits but, by the end of 2020, delivery’s share will have increased to 12% and it accounts for almost half of all projected growth in off-premise visits. By 2020, delivery could make up almost 10% of spend in the total British OOH market, piling additional pressure on operators that rely heavily on on-premise visits.

Drive-thru: small but growing A recent trend in the off-premise sector is the growth of drive-thru. By the end of 2018 it only represented 6% of Britain’s off-premise market in visit terms but is forecast to grow by 60 million visits or 14% by 2020. We estimate there are now more than 1,000 drive-thrus in Britain as operators continue to diversify their estates away from the high street and find other locations consumers frequent. ▲

“By 2020, delivery could make up almost 10% of spend in the total British OOH market, piling additional pressure on operators that rely heavily on on-premise visits”



Insight leading casual dining chains are benefiting from this move alongside an emphasis on product and service quality.

% of total spending increase by 2020

App-based orders to almost double by 2020 Visits originating digitally – customers using digital kiosks or order screens in a foodservice outlet or ordering online or via apps for delivery or takeaway/grab and go – will exceed one billion per year for the first time by the end of 2020. The use of apps should see a particularly rapid increase, with visits that originate from an app (click-and-collect and delivery apps) forecast to leap 88% between now and the end of 2020. This means if app-based orders perform as predicted, they will have almost doubled in visit terms.

On premise 12%

Takeaway 39%

Total app visits (m) (delivery and collection)

Delivery 36%



rise in amount consumers will spend on delivery by the end of 2020 to create a market worth £5.8bn

The next two years will see a continuation of that core story – the pressures affecting on-premise eating and drinking. The old habit of going shopping and finding a place to sit down and eat is still important for many but is at risk as more people shop online. That’s why we predict all the meaningful growth in foodservice will be off-premise as smartphones continue to dominate and the high street reduces in importance. The eating-out industry is fast adapting to these bigger trends by focusing more of its investment into attracting off-premise visits. Modest growth in the large takeaway and grab-and-go channel, supported by the continuing delivery revolution, is enough to provide 88% of spending growth for the entire British foodservice industry in the next two years. The growth of drive-thru is part of a trend towards more convenience and a result of consumers spending less time on the high street. But operators must address the large price gap between on-premise and off-premise. The average on-premise cheque of £7.17 is almost twice the £3.66 for off-premise purchases. Is that good for the industry?

QSR as big as ever We also see a continuation of the established trend of consumers trading down to cheaper eats when dining out. The quick service restaurant (QSR) channel that includes well-known burger, bakery and



coffee chains is likely to attract 41 million more visits annually by the end of 2020 to reach almost 6 billion visits a year. This will represent more than 53% of the entire British foodservice industry in visit terms. We forecast QSR will attract £1.53bn more spend by the end of 2020 to reach £24.6bn.

Absolute change in visits (m) 2020 versus 2018 41

-65 OOH


Casual dining to grow visits and spend Casual dining will also see strong growth in visits and spend. By the end of 2020 it will be attracting an additional 43 million visits to represent 5.5% of all OOH visits, while spend will jump 15.5% (£960m). By contrast full-service restaurants will continue to decline, with a loss of 63 million visits or 9.3%. Similar to their QSR cousins, casual dining operators have been quick to expand into delivery. All




Technology is a key theme and our forecasts indicate any future growth in foodservice visits will be overwhelmingly tech-driven. Operators know the full-scale implementation of digital order channels – offering convenience, engagement and a new experience – is key to survival and growth in a sluggish, oversupplied market. Operators are important in any foodservice forecasts because their creativity and vision ensure the health of this extraordinarily dynamic industry. What happened in the famous Monty Python sketch that introduced us to the Arthur Ludlow Memorial Baths? The first two contestants – portrayed by Graham Chapman and Michael Palin – failed to capture Proust’s seven-book novel in a few succinct sentences and, sadly, the next contestants – the Bolton Choral Society – fared no better. That led to a more creative approach to identify the evening’s winner – but you’ll need to find the sketch online to remind yourself of the outcome. However, “visits down, spend up” will probably be the right summary for the British foodservice industry to the end of 2020 – and that can be completed in a couple of seconds.

Dominic Allport is insight director foodservice UK at The NPD Group

All charts: Source: NPD CREST/NPD Foodservice Outlook

Drive-thru 13%


Reading matters JD Wetherspoon founder Tim Martin talks to Propel managing director Paul Charity about the eight books that have shaped his business philosophy


Made In America by Sam Walton

PC: You quote Sam Walton a lot. I get the sense this is the most important book in the way it has shaped your thinking? TM: Perhaps this is a case of “confirmation bias” – Wetherspoon launched on the stock market before Walton had even written his book (it was published in 1992) – but I thought his philosophy summed up the conclusions I had come to plus his own methodologies. Walton is the founder of Walmart, the biggest retail company in the world, and in a few years he became the richest man in the world. He institutionalised feedback, whereby most of the decisions taken are the result of a lot of consultation and almost always concentrate on little issues, rather than big ones. Eventually a big one comes along – au revoir social media! – which emerged from small ideas. PC: One feature of Walton’s operating model at Walmart was encouraging managers to take equity stakes in the business in the belief that made them more motivated and devoted, a kind of profit share of time. That’s the way it works at Wetherspoon, isn’t it? TM: What Walton did in the early days was to give equity stake in his stores to the people running them and one of the things Wetherspoon took out of this book, more or less directly, was he gave a bonus to all “associates”, people working in his supermarkets including cleaners and cashiers, with about 5% of their pay paid into a retirement fund. A lot of people became wealthy on this as Walmart expanded and in 1998, Wetherspoon did the same thing. It cost us a lot of money – our profits went down that year – but we now have 10,000 people who own shares in the company. One manager who has never sold any of them has £1m in shares.



Good To Great by Jim Collins

PC: Collins had a massive team of researchers who spent five years studying companies that were at least 50 years old to find out what moved them from being good to great. Collins’ philosophy includes the idea there’s no such thing as seismic change in terms of improving performance, rather it’s the aggregation of small improvements. TM: If you read management books or newspapers, journalists are looking for a simple thing someone did that made a business successful. For example, Wetherspoon got rid of music. The reality is, it’s not about those big moves. Businesses rely on the mundane, day-to-day stuff and finding great small ideas you can implement everywhere. Wetherspoon’s advantage is we’re trying to do that as a board – a lot of boards think these changes should be left to other people. PC: The core message from Good To Great is companies need to focus their resources on their “field of key competents”, but it must be easy to go off-track? TM: I remember saying 30 years ago: “McDonald’s is the number one catering business in the world by a million miles.” What other businesses does it operate? The answer is, f*** all. If you look at the pub companies we were trading against at the time, they had ten or 15 brands, which to me was a message. We thought we could do two – Wetherspoon and Lloyds – but even that had its problems. The Lloyds venues offer music but it’s difficult going round visiting pubs at 1am and doing a few moves on the dance floor so we have half the number of the original 120 sites. PC: Another key Collins philosophy in the book is to “confront the brutal facts”, in other words recognise the reality of a situation at the earliest opportunity, then react. This brings to mind the smoking ban when, amid much alarm, Wetherspoon was the first to ban smoking from its estate, ahead of the legislation. Presumably you had recognised the brutal fact smoking was untenable? TM: We had already opened non-smoking sections in pubs, then we opened a non-smoking pub and I wrote to Tony Blair saying it was time to ban smoking – so blame me! However, smoking was banned from just about every other building so pubs were getting smokier as the last refuge for a lost tribe of smokers. It had to be banned otherwise pubs were going to become extinct as greater numbers of people gave up smoking.


“I wrote to Tony Blair saying it was time to ban smoking – so blame me!”



The Richer Way by Julian Richer

PC: Julian Richer founded hi-fi retailer Richer Sounds. What did you take away from this book, which was published in 1998? TM: We were looking for criticism from outside and Julian came and did some consultancies with us and told us we were in the stone age with our employment practices. He felt we weren’t listening enough to staff and one thing we took from his book was a suggestion scheme in which I would answer each suggestion personally, which I did for three years. We take 20 of the best suggestions and discuss them once a week. We don’t always adopt the ideas that come in but they provoke discussion to do something different. It’s tough to do, but it works. PC: Richer’s business is his life-long calling, he doesn’t want to do anything else. I get the impression that’s like yourself and Wetherspoon? TM: I think we’re built to work – that could be the name of a book if I can get a team of researchers! Activity and work are important factors. Is it a life-long calling? Yes!


Uncle Bill: The Authorised Biography Of Field Marshal Viscount Slim by Russell Miller PC: This is an unusual choice. Uncle Bill was largely active in Burma and is regarded as the best general of his generation. What is it about his story that inspired you? TM: Bill Slim was chief of the “forgotten army”, as it was called, in Burma in what he described as the “worst climate in the world”. They retreated 800 or 900 miles through the jungle, harassed all the way on half-rations. They emerged in India with about a quarter of the force, then advanced back through the jungle 1,000 miles – and won! Everyone at the time thought the enemy (Japan) was invincible in the jungle but he convinced his troops they weren’t. In the most appalling conditions he kept making small changes of direction and never got depressed. That’s what you’ve got to be like if you want to run a successful business. Things go wrong all the time and you have to get rid of any negative thoughts and move on. You’ve got to move forward all the time. Uncle Bill’s is a positive philosophy. That’s easier said than done, but it’s what you need. ▲

“You’ve got to move forward all the time. Uncle Bill’s is a positive philosophy. That’s easier said than done, but it’s what you need” SUMMER 2019 PROPEL QUARTERLY




Decentralisation – Why And How To Make It Work by Jan Wallender PC: This is the story of a bank in Sweden, Handelsbanken, which decided not just to pursue volume but to work out what was profitable with long-term potential and decentralise decision-making to ensure decisions were made closer to the coalface, where people had expertise. What did you take from it? TM: My son works in the City and recommended I read this book. Handelsbanken found a way to avoid the reckless decisions being taken by other banks. They did very well out of the credit crunches, they didn’t need rescuing, whereas UK banks, for example, have repeatedly got into trouble over the past 40 or 50 years. The financial world, like most worlds, is hugely prone to received opinion – you should be doing this or that. The nutty one from 20 years ago until ten years ago, which brought a lot of the pub industry to its knees, was you should have an efficient balance sheet. An efficient balance sheet means you borrow as much money as you possibly can and give it back to shareholders, then you run the business with more debt. There was a lot of pressure on Wetherspoon to do that. Punch did it, so did Enterprise Inns, Mitchells & Butlers, Greene King and Marston’s, somehow we didn’t. Handelsbanken found a way round that by going back to employees and asking whether they should lend to certain people or not. There were no major objectives like having to lend £1bn a week, it was left to local managers to come up, as they always do, with better ideas. PC: I assume the transferable lesson to Wetherspoon is whatever happens, don’t allow head office to dictate policy strategy ideas downwards, allow great ideas to bubble up, almost a decentralisation of power? TM: We’re not as decentralised as Handelsbanken, but that’s the basic idea.


The Snowball: Warren Buffett And The Business Of Life by Alice Schroeder and The Essays Of Warren Buffett: Lessons For Corporate America by Lawrence A. Cunningham PC: Snowball is an intimate and very long account of Warren Buffett’s life. No stone is left unturned and we get to hear every bit of his personal life alongside his business philosophy. You get a clear view of what amounts to good investments, good companies and good managers. What did you take from these two books? TM: Warren Buffett is “the” guy for common sense – they call him the Sage of Omaha. There’s a tremendous amount


“You get the impression people expect a business to have a great driving philosophy to start off with but that’s not the case. It’s usually about nosing forward like fish and finding a niche”

of wisdom in his writings. My favourite is: “Only invest in a business that’s so simple it could be run by an idiot – because one day it will be!” His latest letter to shareholders showed the assets at Berkshire Hathaway, which he owns 35% to 40% of, are worth more in value than any other company in the world. PC: What Buffett is great at is identifying the relative merits of different businesses. The insurance business was one of the foundation stones of Berkshire Hathaway because it’s a business where they take the money up front and may or may not have to pay it back somewhere down the line. It creates an enormous float to invest in other businesses.


The IKEA edge by Anders Dahlvig

PC: IKEA is quite a closed business but Dahlvig was running it for ten years then wrote a book – the first time we got to hear how IKEA runs its business and its philosophy. What did you learn? TM: You get the impression people expect a business to have a great driving philosophy to start off with but that’s not the case. It’s usually about nosing forward like fish and finding a niche, which can often be a very big niche. IKEA moved into other countries, which you have to do in Sweden. It’s not like in the UK, where you can get pretty big without going to another country. Once you master another culture, you can probably make your business work elsewhere. It’s a fascinating story. PC: IKEA got to control its own supply chain and in that way it created power. Wetherspoon has its own distribution centre doesn’t it? TM: Yes. I’m not sure if anyone else in the pub trade has. It has its own problems but it does mean you can buy from a wider range of suppliers. It means you don’t have to have a large, national supplier. A quite small supplier can deliver into our distribution centre and we supply that to our outlets. You have to balance the cost, but it has worked. PC: Finally, have you thought about writing a book? TM: Going back to Buffett’s quote, to prevent an idiot from taking over my business, I might have to! ■



Here’s a light-hearted cover suggestion Tim!

venners A Venners Brand



Compliance in the Cloud


high risk


medium risk 12 low risk


Food Safety



Allergen Checks






Fraud Prevention



Stock Control



Get the complete solution for multi-site operators


Crunching the numbers

Simon Iddon offers tips to prevent operators “drowning in data” and says the more we collect and use, the better for everyone


wimming or drowning in “too much data” – is that even a thing? As in anything we need to understand how we benefit and use it to our advantage.. Whatever Brexit deal is finally negotiated, the hospitality sector faces stiff challenges as operators are confronted by a two-fold conundrum. Is too much data a benefit or bandwagon “stuff” we collect and don’t use? A lot of data terms are bandied about, some are different ways to describe the same thing while others should remain techie terms and out of the mainstream. Data science, data lakes, warehouses, push or pull, normalisation, single version of the truth, cohorts, single customer view, integrated analytics... let’s forget all the terms for a minute. It’s all about how we can benefit by affecting outcomes using insights to help make informed decisions.

Now you have access to how often they eat and drink with you, what they spend, what they eat, what their drink attachment rates are, how long they dwell, how many courses and whether they are voucher-led or a promoter. With improved customer engagement and the feeling of a value exchange, people will provide more opted-in data – age, number of children, lifestyle choices, health choices, allergens, preferences – and these lead to more interesting cohorts. With one million users in a customer relationship, you don’t app-push or email one million consumers with different content. But contacting a cohort of users in a certain age range who have children and inviting them, for example, to a children’s dessert menu tasting in their local restaurant – that might go to 10,000 people with the same email content but personalised with their name, and it’s all relevant. People like relevance instead of a scatter-gun Burgers approach. Inviting a vegan to try your new steak Let’s bring this to life through a story, and where menu won’t only lead to them not visiting, you “With better to start than a better burger? You could might receive a complaint too. improved customer squint and say they are mostly variations on When collecting data I always say collect the same theme – a bit like the data many more (where your stance says there is a legal engagement and the operators have – but you need to break it basis). Add some more columns even if you feeling of a value down to understand what you have, the can’t fully think why you need it today – you exchange, people differences, subtleties, stand-outs and how might want it in the future. that produces overall benefits compared with Labour systems already know the weather, will provide more competitors. pay days, school holidays, sports events, opted-in data” Ingredients come in from different suppliers, what device they are on and who was serving packaged differently, some in raw form others in the restaurant that day. This is where artificial part-prepared and vacuum-packed to save kitchen intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) comes labour. This is the “unstructured data” and there’s a lot of in – or data scientists in the interim. Better still, both it, lacking consistency and not all of it usable as-is. working together. You book your ingredients into stock and check the order Who would have thought when a waiter wears a blue jumper against the receipt to find some items missing, quantities different and you order on the Android version of the app and the facial to your order and, for those real laggards, paper invoices with sentiment analysis of the server is smiley, you spend more missing dates or in a different format. It’s a bit of a mess – and on drinks, even in poor weather? This probably isn’t true but that’s your “data cleansing”. It all needs tidying up before you can applying ML to data is good for unveiling patterns and groups make proper sense of it. that can lead to new cohorts that can be even more personalised, Next you prepare your ingredients using consistent weights targeted, relevant and easier to “test” to see which approach and measures, 6oz patties are now called 170 grams of (insert works “best”. It will reveal more patterns you didn’t know were protein here), a slice of tomato in grams, “normal” bun or muffin, there – found at speed and on higher volumes of data. block or pre-sliced cheese in a usable weight for recipes. A As many of us look to become more data led, we should still medium dollop is 10 grams of sauce. This “data transformation” employ humans. AI to me is really “augmented intelligence”, puts it into a meaningful, consistent format so we can use it. augmenting not replacing humans, balancing intuition backed Your basic burger recipe consists of a 170g beef patty, 70g by data. Alternatively, it’s ML coming up with new theories and bread, 28g cheese and 10g sauce so you need to look at the cost opportunities that are sanity checked by humans with computers of goods sold, how many you sell, the attachment rate for sides faster at crunching the numbers. and drinks, and the sales trend. This is “business logic” – when With so much “tech” it has become a journey of some now the real world is applied – and you group the data and apply it and a bit more later. The business just needs the vision, knowwith some other data to create useful information you can use. how and the right tools – but doesn’t everything? This isn’t anything new but layer on more data and watch this The sector is still a long way from true “big data” but we’re become more interesting. getting there, slowly, and the more we collect and use the better for everyone. It can’t be a bad thing – but it requires a staged More, more, more approach. ■ Now let’s link a person to a transaction. Digital order, pay, click and collect, vouchers, feedback, check-in at table and Simon Iddon is founder and chief executive of reservations can all link a person to a transaction and allow you to strategic advisory and consultancy firm CxOwn see their basket.



Bibendum is proud to sponsor the Propel Multi-Club conference “We are delighted to be sponsoring the Propel Multi-Club conferences throughout 2019 and look forward to participating in these fantastic events.” Michael Saunders, CEO As a nationwide specialist distributor to the On Trade, Bibendum delivers to a wide range of customers from top restaurants and cocktail bars, to catering companies, pub groups and hotels. With a list of over 350 wine producers from across the globe, our portfolio boasts a wide range of award-winning wines across all price points. Alongside this, we also have a large, exciting range of spirits, from artisanal gins to premium tequila. Our training team travel around the country to help staff become well-versed in the different products they sell, while we have an in-house customer marketing and design team who help take a drinks list to the next level. Our dedicated market insights team use cutting-edge technology to stay ahead of the game, ensuring the right product gets to the right customer.

If you would like to find out more about how we can help your business, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We’d love to hear from you. | 07976 709958 | Michael Saunders

Let us help you to protect your customers and employees with our first aid training solutions. We offer: • • •

Emergency First Aid First Aid at Work Mental Health First Aider – New for 2019

Whatever your training needs we are here to help you grow, develop and achieve. Find out more today: 0151 650 6910