When hospitality is your calling, you can’t help but be drawn to it. This is something Gareth has learned since the day his love for hotels and looking after other humans began. He now has 252 bedrooms, 10 restaurants, a members’ club and three floors of health, fitness, beauty and spa facilities, inside his gorgeous building – The Ned.
00:00:00 Marks introduction
00:02:53 Meeting Gareth Banner, setting the scene in London – Poultry, opposite the bank of England
- 00:03:56 “We are currently sitting on what we refer to today as basement level one – and this was where a lot of the safety deposits were kept.”
00:05:01 How did Gareth get into hospitality? What was his first trigger?
- 00:06:37 “I remember thinking, I’m not sure I’ve picked the right course here.”
00:07:27 Hospitality is a calling, you have to be a certain type of person to enjoy it
- 00:08:08 “It’s a rare breed of individual, actually – that can cut it. At the very sharp end of what is high volume, high quality. I think there is a lack of awareness of what it takes to operate at this level.”
00:08:53 Why does Gareth favour the hotel side of the industry over the restaurant side? Getting to know people for a longer amount of time
00:10:19 Being big in the US, and coming back to the UK with the Marriott
- 00:10:58 “There was this watershed moment for me, where I realised – whilst I had learnt a lot working for Marriott… There was very little they were asking me to work out for myself.”
00:13:23 Do you need fourty pages to tell you how to clean a room? Discussing companies and complex procedures
00:13:56 What did Gareth learn from working in independent business over corporate companies?
- 00:14:15 “The ability to really individualise the experience – everybody was a name, wasn’t just a guest.”
00:15:33 Can this learning scale onto a larger group – or is it impossible at mass level to create an individual experience?
00:18:06 Does Gareth have profiling techniques & how does he class his different guests?
- 00:21:49 Technology and how far it’s come in terms of hospitality
00:23:47 Is a restaurant transaction easier than a hotel transaction? How much harder it is to please customers that are spending more time with you
00:28:34 The Ned in 2016 – when Gareth joined the business
- 00:30:00 “All he brought to the meeting was a book of 100 renders of what is the Ned today. There were no words – like a picture book. You know, I’ve worked on openings before and you get a dozen renders if you’re lucky. But there was 100 – the entire building had been drawn to the detail.”
- 00:30:59 “It was immediately apparent to me that this was an amazing building…. I knew it was one of those jobs that if I was offered it, and I turned it down… It would be one of those I might regret in the future. I’ve always said, don’t have regrets.”
00:31:42 How Gareth feels about his decision to get involved with the Ned
- 00:33:04 “You can find so many reasons to not do something, but looking for the reasons to do it is a lot harder – but can often lead to the most rewarding experience.”
00:34:59 Painting a picture of the Ned – 10 restaurants, 1000 staff, 250 bedrooms and £1,000,000 a week
00:37:37 Did Gareth realise how big the project would be – and why didn’t he run away?
- 00:38:59 “Vision is one thing; courage is something else… Nick’s courage was infectious.”
00:41:02 Gareth’s primary role in the first year at the Ned
00:45:59 The benefits of having in-house designers for the company
- 00:47:04 “A large percentage of the furniture for example is genuine vintage furniture – it complements the aesthetic and scheme we went for… Whilst some of the furniture gives the place real character, something that was built 100 years ago is not going to withstand the rigors of six turns a day.”
00:48:19 Has a lot of character from the original building been kept? Is there individual character in each restaurant?
- 00:51:13 Are the brands all designed in house?
00:53:25 Did all of the concepts work?
- 00:53:34 “The law of average is, that two or three of them should have been a flop. I can’t pretend that some didn’t ramp up quicker than others, but as a general rule – they were all immediately successful.”
- 00:54:00 Why the takeaway side of the business didn’t quite work – the building was just too nice!
- 00:55:39 “The deli is not quite as established a concept in the UK as it is in America. But, the reality is – if you’re going out for lunch or breakfast, deli sounds right. But when you’re going out for dinner, do you go to a deli for dinner or a restaurant? By adding the word ‘deli & diner’, almost overnight – the dinner trade corrected itself.”
00:56:23 Does Gareth’s restaurants take walk ins?
- 00:57:42 “We refined it and refined it… We now have an eight week waiting list for Sunday lunch, we have over 1,000 people that come between 12 noon and 9pm… It’s like the great Sunday roast on steroids.”
00:59:04 Does Gareth used fixed prices for his buffets & Sunday lunches?
- 00:59:44 “Doesn’t matter how much money you’ve got in your back pocket, everybody likes to feel well looked after and like they’ve had a good deal.”
01:00:56 Traditional issues in big industry – recruitment, chefs, brexit
- 01:02:31 “If they’re not coming here, we are not going to find the number of people we need to open this building in time. So we flipped it on its head – if they won’t come here on their own accord, we will go and get them. So we set up recruitment offices up in Spain and Italy.”
01:06:04 How many people in the team did Gareth have ready before the Ned opened?
01:07:34 Training staff ready for opening the Ned, and how did Gareth pull that off?
01:11:59 Winning the Humans Resources Team of the Year award
01:17:23 Sustainability and Hospitality’s responsibility to look after the planet
- 01:19:13 “What was once ok – people saying ‘we use free range chicken’… If anyone’s still saying that and are proud of it, I think that’s an absolute given. Scary if someone still thinks that’s the forefront of innovation.”
01:21:50 Good & bad advice/wisdom that Gareth has heard over the years
- 01:22:49 “Generosity and hospitality are inextricably linked.”
01:25:47 Where to go to find out more about Gareth & the Ned
01:26:27 What’s next for Gareth?
01:27:35 Final thoughts, Mark’s signoff
If you’re looking to learn a little bit more about Gareth and the amazing location that is The Ned in London, listen to the full podcast here or check out their social channels & website: