Propel Multi Club – What We Learnt (Part 2)

Propel Multi Club – What We Learnt (Part 2)

Following on from the previous post about the March Propel Multi Club event, we have continued to consider what lessen could be learnt form the speakers and the people we met.

Part 2 – The sector is changing and quality is key

Against a backdrop of media reports that some sectors are currently suffering, it was great to hear from Graeme Smith, co-head of financial advisory service AlixPartners, that there is still a real appetite from corporate finance and real estate funds to back and make hospitality acquisitions over the last year and will continue to do so next year. He noted that there have been a lot of consolidations and mergers of the strong, well managed brands in the UK. Here are three factors that are expected to drive success this year.

  1. Operational excellence. These are businesses with not only great people, but those that have solid systems and process in place to ensure great service levels.
  2. Offer a visitor experience. Businesses that are able to give their clients something to tweet or Instagram about is crucial in adding value. This point was backed up by Katy Moses, founder of KAM Media, whose research shows that nearly 50% of 18-24 year olds would chose a place to eat or drink based on how good they looked on Instagram.
  3. Able to broaden their trading windows. Business are looking to maximise their real estate by making more of the hours in the day available for trading. For example, we are seeing pubs offering breakfast and rooms, restaurants such as Wagamama are being really successful by offering a takeaway service.

This changing nature of business is something that was spoken about by veteran publican and chairman of Stonegate Pub Company, Ian Payne. Ian had noticed that wet led pubs have gone from being open over two short windows in a day, to being open 16 hours a day, every day. Ian also warned against the increased sale of high ABV beers, believing that their prominence had coincided with the decline general decline in drinks sales as they were simply too strong to drink several pints of on a regular basis.

Propel Multi Club – What We Learnt (Part 1)

Propel Multi Club – What We Learnt (Part 1)

What a success the March Propel Multi Club was this year! The team from Catton Hospitality had a great day speaking to a spectrum of people and were proud to be one of the event sponsors. Taking to the stage this year were a variety of industry experts, each with serious pedigree in their fields. From successful operators, to hospitality innovators, we learnt a lot. Here are some of the best lessons we learnt from the day.


Part 1 – Great people with effective technology is the perfect combination

One of the key lessons from this year’s star of the show and Catton Hospitality’s CEO, Alastair Scott, was that a business is built one shift at a time (albeit a borrowed quote from Tony Hughes) and so planning to make each one a success is essential. Alastair highlighted some useful tips on how to achieve this, especially the importance of adopting excellent IT systems, such as S4Labour. Other gems to gleam from Alastair’s experience of running highly successful hospitality businesses include, removing the teams hiding places in order to encourage them to positively engage with guest, investing in staff development, and showing leadership. Both Alastair and Ian Payne, Chairman of Stonegate Pub Company, spoke of the importance of giving praise to staff on a regular basis, especially if it needs to come with criticism.


You may be surprised to also find out that there is a bigger correlation between increased sales figures and having a happy team, than there is between sales and happy customers.


Many of the guest speakers were keen to express how important innovative technologies had been in their growth and managing their business day to day, but as Mark Ashley, author of ‘Better Than Yesterday’ points out that, nothing can replace good people. All the operators on stage believed in the importance of training and developing existing people within the business. Mark Ashley noted the essential requirement is to not only invest in your team, but to make sure your own wellbeing and personal growth are not neglected. Both Mark and Tim Martin, founder of JD Weatherspoons, agreed that your team are essential for providing ideas and feedback that drive the success of the business.

February Sales Figures

February Sales Figures

Buoyancy in the hospitality sector, according to recent figures from Catton Hospitality.

According to an analysis of more than 100 organisations that use S4labour software, operators bounced back from the January blues to see strong sales figures in February 2019 compared with like for like figures from February 2018. 


Overall, sites achieved an encouraging 2.5% increase in like for like sales on February the previous year. Like recent months, it was food-focused businesses who saw the greatest increases. Drink sales in food-focused pubs delivered an uplift of 7.6%, accounting for the greatest proportion of growth within the analysis. Strong drink sales were not at the sacrifice of revenue from food, where sales also grew by 2.4%. 


There were also modest increases in sales performances from drink focused business. Drink sales in wet-let business grew by 1.3%. However they were slightly hindered by fall in food sales. Overall, sales in drink focused business were up by just short of 1% on last year.