New World Trading Company is one of the country’s fastest growing pub and bar operators, and CEO Chris Hill shared some of the secrets of its success with CGA vice president Peter Martin at the Casual Dining show. Hill has grown the business to 20 sites, first under the Living Ventures umbrella and now with the backing of Graphite Capital. Here’s what he had to say on…

On… growing the business under Living Ventures

“The scenario when we started was the best of both worlds—I had freedom and the security of being within the Living Ventures family with shared resources. It was a start-up in many ways, but with lots of support on hand.”

On… introducing new brands

The Botanist has been New World Trading Company’s core brand, but it runs other one-off concepts and has just launched the new Florist brand too.

Hill said running several brands rather than just one helps to future-proof a business and avoids the risk of putting all the eggs in one by businesses have doubled up in cities and there’s nothing wrong with that, but our play will be a little bit different. We’ll have three or four sites in a city, but they’ll be called different things and do different things.”

On… one-off ‘House’ pubs

New World Trading Company made a splash with the Oast House in Manchester, and it has followed that up with the Club House in Liverpool and Canal House in Birmingham. “The idea internally is that every major city centre will get a ‘House’– a one-off city centre oasis that looks a bit out of place.”

On… plans for new openings

Hill said New World Trading Company is looking at openings in cities including Bristol, Exeter, Cardiff, Bath, Coventry, Leicester, Cambridge—though it’s steering clear of London’s high rents for now. “Other than London, anywhere is game.”

On… inspiration for the Florist brand

“The best lesson I’ve learned is to listen to the young people in your organisation and find out what they’re doing. We built it [The Florist] with them in mind.”

On… recruitment

“You can do whatever you like to a building, but there’s nothing more important than that interaction between your staff and your customers. It’s as simple as getting the best people you can and empowering them to be the best trainers they can be. The money you spend on training is the best money you can spend.”

On… technology

“I need a lot of convincing to introduce technology… our whole relationship is between our staff and our customers, so I’m a sceptic at heart. We’ve welcomed a lot of back-of-house technology… but I haven’t found anything front-facing that has made me want to replace a human being and that will make a better experience for my customer.”

On… staying upbeat

“The sector as a whole needs to smile a bit more. We’ve all got great jobs in a great sector. People will ultimately get hungry and thirsty every day, and we need to be there to look after them. The businesses that remember that customer experience is king will be absolutely fine—it’s the ones that forget that and think it’s about something else that will make the mistakes.”

     

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