People
People news

In a brand new section, we look at what some of the industry's movers and shakers are up to



Jaimie Grainger-Smith, founder, Acorn House

 

Jaimie Grainger-Smith
 

Jamie Grainger-Smith, co-founder of Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen restaurant and founder of eco-friendly training restaurant Acorn House and sister restaurant Waterhouse – all in London, UK – has launched the Think.Eat.Drink (T.E.D.) membership scheme.

The scheme provides ‘forward-thinking solutions to all businesses working within the hospitality industry that want to be green, responsible and successful.’ It is aimed at hotels, restaurants, bars and food service providers. Each member is vetted, and once they have passed the vetting process, they become part of the T.E.D. ethical network and community, with a supply chain that will provide everything from eggs to electricity.

“The idea for the Think.Eat.Drink Membership Scheme came about from the success of Acorn House Restaurant,” says Grainger-Smith. “After I created the concept, I saw a major shift towards green thinking and a want for change. These aspirations proved the viability of a luxury restaurant with well-developed ethical policies that could be extended to other hospitality and catering businesses while helping supply chains to incorporate the same thinking and embrace the same ethos and ideology.

“We want and need to change the food and drink industry, we believe that it can become more responsible and we’re aiming to inspire operators and the public to make that change. Our experience has demonstrated that these aims can be achieved without compromising style, quality or profit.”

The aim of T.E.D. is to establish a set of 'ethical and responsibility' standards for the hospitality industry, including environmental policies, animal welfare, nutritional value and 'green' education. “At present there are few forms of certification in these areas, much less a blanket 'ethical food' standard,” says Grainger-Smith. “In light of the wasteful use of energy, processes and procurement I've seen in my work, I believe that ethical thinking and dining should not exist in a niche. It should be a movement that affects the way in which British people think a little bit more about their eating and drinking experience.”

Grainger-Smith is also currently working on the Hub at Kings Cross in London, a private members' club which acts as a co-working space for social entrepreneurs.

Details: www.thinkeatdrink.co.uk


We need to change the food and drink industry

 



Grainger-Smith launched Acorn House with Arthur Potts Dawson in 2006

Abi Wright, director and co-founder, Spabreaks.com

 

Abi Wright
 

Abi Wright, the director and co-founder of spa booking website Spabreaks.com, has launched Spa for All, an umbrella initiative designed to open up the spa industry.

The initiative encompasses Recovery Retreats, spa breaks specifically designed for anyone who is being treated for cancer, or has had cancer within the past two years, and Accessible Spas, which lists accessible facilities and spa packages which allow carers to go along to spas for free to use the facilities.

“We receive on average 12 enquiries a day asking about special requirements, whether that be accessible facilities or particular health concerns that make organising a break a little trickier,” says Wright. “Spa for All is about providing the information and packages to give customers who may have historically felt marginalised from the industry the ability to choose a spa break with as much independence as possible, safe in the knowledge that treatments are safe and discretion is paramount, so when they arrive they can enjoy their break just like anybody else.

“The spa industry is notoriously bad at catering for anyone with cancer, which is absurd given that one in three people are affected by it at some stage. Invariably customers will be turned away from spas and refused treatment, so we created Recovery Retreats, offering consultations over the phone before guests arrive so their concerns don’t have to be discussed at the spa reception desk.”

Plans are underway to expand Spa for All in 2013 with the further progression of Recovery Retreats and the addition of Teen Skin Clinics; Friendship Spas, for those wanting a solo spa break but nervous of going by themselves; and Spa for Me for new mothers, combining postnatal depression counselling and treatments in venues with crèche facilities.

Wright initialy trained as a journalist, before working at Donnington Valley and The Vineyard at Stockcross, then launching her own PR and marketing agency. She launched Spabreaks.com in June 2008.

“I want to make spas accessible for everybody,” she says. “The spa industry has been traditionally closed to huge groups of people predominantly out of fear or a lack of knowledge, but the facilities are there – I want to tell everyone about the amazing opportunities that are available.”

Details: www.spabreaks.com


The spa industry is notoriously bad at catering for anyone with cancer

 



The spabreaks.com website features spa reviews by customers with disabilities

Neil Harmsworth & Jamie Ward, founders, payasUgym

 

Neil Harmsworth & Jamie Ward
 

Neil Harmsworth and Jamie Ward, the founders of pay as you go fitness company, payasUgym, have secured a partnership with Tesco which could see the online company provide gym passes to up to 16 million Clubcard customers.

The deal will allow Clubcard customers to use their Clubcard points to purchase gym passes for health clubs and leisure centres across the UK.

“Gyms and health clubs are always looking for innovative ways to promote to new customers and we wanted to find a national partner to help us get more people using the gyms that are listed at payasUgym.com,” says Harmsworth. “With over 16 million Clubcard customers, there is no company better placed to support this than Tesco, and with over 600 participating gyms and health clubs nationwide, payasUgym.com is the only gym network in the UK with the scale to support such a large initiative – so the deal made perfect sense for all parties. On a personal level it is extremely satisfying as it proves that payasUgym.com is now recognised as the first place that customers go when they are looking for a new gym."

PayasUgym was launched in February 2011. The service uses smartphone technology to allow customers to find a gym and pay for a visit without paying membership fees. The biggest challenge, says Harmsworth, has been educating the fitness industry about what PayasUgym actually offers.

“Many people in the industry assume that they know what we do based simply on our brand name,” he says. “There are 10 million lapsed gym members in the UK and we do a huge amount of work to get these people back into health and fitness. We spent over £1m on marketing to these customers in 2012 alone.

"Our business model only works if it generates new customers and new members for the gyms that we work with and I think we need to be a lot more vocal in educating the industry about what exactly we do.”

Details: www.payasugym.com


"There are 10 million lapsed gym members in the UK"

 



Customers buy an ePass from the payasUgym website which they redeem at the reception of their chosen gym

KP Kofler, founder, Pret a Diner

 

KP Kofler
 

KP Kofler, CEO of Kofler & Kompanie, the company behind pop up restaurant company Pret a Diner, is planning a range of events for 2013.

Pret a Diner offers pop up dining experiences that combine food by Michelin-starred chefs, a club lounge, music, a social club and art galleries. The last event was a pop up members’ club called The Burlington Social Club, held in the Senate Rooms at The Royal Academy, London. The event offered cocktails, dinner, music and an exhibition showcasing works by current Royal Academians.

“It was a mélange of surprising cuisine, masterly mixology, contemporary arts and music – for bohemians, culture vultures and art aficionados, urban explorers, lifestyle savants, food fanatics, business people and revelers,” said Kofler.

For 2013, Kofler says Pret a Diner is going to travel the world “making history one city at a time.

“In January 2013 we will go to an amazing unexpected location in Berlin. In March we go to sunny Rio de Janeiro for the Fashion week. LeBlon and Ipanema won't be the same after us! June is the month when we dive into the arts – Pret a Diner will open the Biennale in Venice and will be in Basel for Art Basel. Both locations are mind blowing. In late July and August we will rock Ibiza with a proper concept.In September we will come back to London, where we are scouting a location.”

KP Kofler’s family business, Kofler & Kompanie, is one of the most traditional names in the German catering business, dating back to the opening of the Kofler town bakery in Bad Homburg in 1823. The first Pret a Diner pop up restaurant launched in Berlin in January 2011.

“I wanted to create something awe-inspiring and consuming, tasty and surprising that would turn heads and leave a legacy,” says Kofler. “Together with the creative co-founder Olivia Steele and a handful of extremely creative people, we embarked on a journey to design the most avant-garde dining concept, but a temporary one. We wanted to explore ways of hooking the imagination of the public on food culture beyond the typical restaurant experience.”


"We wanted to explore ways of hooking the imagination of the public"

 



The Burlington Social Club ran from September to November 2012

Jillian MacLean, founder, Drake & Morgan

 

Jillian MacLean
 

Jillian MacLean, the founder and managing director of London bar and restaurant business Drake & Morgan, is preparing to open two further venues over the next year, bringing the portfolio to seven.

The 8,000sq ft, 230-cover Happenstance bar and restaurant is due to open in St Paul’s, London in autumn 2013, offering views of St Paul’s Cathedral, a bar, a deli, a private dining room, an open kitchen, a florist and a mixology table.

The second, as yet unnamed venue, will cover 10,000sq ft, and will offer 478 covers over three floors. It will be located at the Sixty London office development in Holborn and will feature a kitchen and bar, a deli, a florist and a cheese and wine room. It's due to open by the start of 2014.

They are both being designed by Fusion Design & Architecture.

“We've travelled to Asia, in particular Hong Kong and Shanghai, to look for inspiration for the design and offering,” says MacLean. “We'll be launching our cookery school at our venue at Sixty London and our flower and deli shop, Bottle and Blooms. Hopefully we'll give customers some delightful surprises in terms of design, food and drink."

MacLean launched Drake & Morgan in February 2008, with the first venue The Refinery, opening in Southwark, London. The company now has five venues, all in the City of London. The aim, says MacLean, is to make each venue individual, and to offer customers a personalised experience – these range from art exhibitions to mixology sessions and butchery classes.

MacLean was previously operations director for Novus Leisure, and before that worked for the Spirit Group, Tattershall Castle and Mitchells & Butlers Plc. In 2001, she was short-listed for Veuve Cliquot Woman of the Year, and won the Outstanding Entrepreneur Award at the Women 1st Shine Awards.

“There was a gap in the market for a fresh, independent, neighbourhood all-day bar and restaurant with great design and good attention to detail,” says MacLean of her decision to launch the company.

The biggest challenge, according to MacLean, was “finding the right sites. That continues to be a challenge for us as we like fairly large units in commercial districts.”

Details: www.drakeandmorgan.co.uk


"We travelled to Asia to look for inspiration"

 



The most recent venue, The Drift opened in June 2011 in Heron's Tower in Bishopsgate, London

John Oxley, managing director, Active Nation

In an effort to support the Olympic legacy and encourage more people to take up sport, John Oxley, the managing director of Active Nation, has committed to doing 50 sports before turning 50 in April 2013.

Active Nation is a national sport and exercise charity aiming to encourage the UK to become more active. The idea for Oxley’s ’50 Shades of Play’ initiative was born when Active Nation was reviewing its campaign activity post-Olympics, he says. “We were struck by the excitement that had been created but also wondered how we might encourage people to participate and not just spectate,” says Oxley. “I was conscious that I could do my bit to help. We have always been aware that people's lack of self esteem is used as a reason for not taking part in physical activity. I believe that if you have the desire and belief, then you can learn to play any sport in no time at all.”

The challenge kicked off at Woodmill Activities Centre in Southampton on 17 October with archery and kayaking.

Oxley hopes to raise more than £5,000 to support two charities – The Rising Stars programme, which provides funding for talented athletes for Rio 2016 and beyond, and the Sporting Chance initiative, which supports activities for people with physical and mental disabilities.

 “I also hope to raise the profile of sport as a means of increasing the level of physical activity in our communities as the gym or a class is not for everyone,” says Oxley. “I want to get out to the venues and be visible – inspiring the public, staff, clubs and supporters along the way.”

Details: www.sportinnotime.com


“I want to raise the profile of sport as the gym is not for everyone”

 



John Oxley
 


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SELECTED ISSUE
Leisure Management
2013 issue 1

View issue contents

Leisure Management - People news

People

People news


In a brand new section, we look at what some of the industry's movers and shakers are up to


Jaimie Grainger-Smith, founder, Acorn House

 

Jaimie Grainger-Smith
 

Jamie Grainger-Smith, co-founder of Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen restaurant and founder of eco-friendly training restaurant Acorn House and sister restaurant Waterhouse – all in London, UK – has launched the Think.Eat.Drink (T.E.D.) membership scheme.

The scheme provides ‘forward-thinking solutions to all businesses working within the hospitality industry that want to be green, responsible and successful.’ It is aimed at hotels, restaurants, bars and food service providers. Each member is vetted, and once they have passed the vetting process, they become part of the T.E.D. ethical network and community, with a supply chain that will provide everything from eggs to electricity.

“The idea for the Think.Eat.Drink Membership Scheme came about from the success of Acorn House Restaurant,” says Grainger-Smith. “After I created the concept, I saw a major shift towards green thinking and a want for change. These aspirations proved the viability of a luxury restaurant with well-developed ethical policies that could be extended to other hospitality and catering businesses while helping supply chains to incorporate the same thinking and embrace the same ethos and ideology.

“We want and need to change the food and drink industry, we believe that it can become more responsible and we’re aiming to inspire operators and the public to make that change. Our experience has demonstrated that these aims can be achieved without compromising style, quality or profit.”

The aim of T.E.D. is to establish a set of 'ethical and responsibility' standards for the hospitality industry, including environmental policies, animal welfare, nutritional value and 'green' education. “At present there are few forms of certification in these areas, much less a blanket 'ethical food' standard,” says Grainger-Smith. “In light of the wasteful use of energy, processes and procurement I've seen in my work, I believe that ethical thinking and dining should not exist in a niche. It should be a movement that affects the way in which British people think a little bit more about their eating and drinking experience.”

Grainger-Smith is also currently working on the Hub at Kings Cross in London, a private members' club which acts as a co-working space for social entrepreneurs.

Details: www.thinkeatdrink.co.uk


We need to change the food and drink industry

 



Grainger-Smith launched Acorn House with Arthur Potts Dawson in 2006

Abi Wright, director and co-founder, Spabreaks.com

 

Abi Wright
 

Abi Wright, the director and co-founder of spa booking website Spabreaks.com, has launched Spa for All, an umbrella initiative designed to open up the spa industry.

The initiative encompasses Recovery Retreats, spa breaks specifically designed for anyone who is being treated for cancer, or has had cancer within the past two years, and Accessible Spas, which lists accessible facilities and spa packages which allow carers to go along to spas for free to use the facilities.

“We receive on average 12 enquiries a day asking about special requirements, whether that be accessible facilities or particular health concerns that make organising a break a little trickier,” says Wright. “Spa for All is about providing the information and packages to give customers who may have historically felt marginalised from the industry the ability to choose a spa break with as much independence as possible, safe in the knowledge that treatments are safe and discretion is paramount, so when they arrive they can enjoy their break just like anybody else.

“The spa industry is notoriously bad at catering for anyone with cancer, which is absurd given that one in three people are affected by it at some stage. Invariably customers will be turned away from spas and refused treatment, so we created Recovery Retreats, offering consultations over the phone before guests arrive so their concerns don’t have to be discussed at the spa reception desk.”

Plans are underway to expand Spa for All in 2013 with the further progression of Recovery Retreats and the addition of Teen Skin Clinics; Friendship Spas, for those wanting a solo spa break but nervous of going by themselves; and Spa for Me for new mothers, combining postnatal depression counselling and treatments in venues with crèche facilities.

Wright initialy trained as a journalist, before working at Donnington Valley and The Vineyard at Stockcross, then launching her own PR and marketing agency. She launched Spabreaks.com in June 2008.

“I want to make spas accessible for everybody,” she says. “The spa industry has been traditionally closed to huge groups of people predominantly out of fear or a lack of knowledge, but the facilities are there – I want to tell everyone about the amazing opportunities that are available.”

Details: www.spabreaks.com


The spa industry is notoriously bad at catering for anyone with cancer

 



The spabreaks.com website features spa reviews by customers with disabilities

Neil Harmsworth & Jamie Ward, founders, payasUgym

 

Neil Harmsworth & Jamie Ward
 

Neil Harmsworth and Jamie Ward, the founders of pay as you go fitness company, payasUgym, have secured a partnership with Tesco which could see the online company provide gym passes to up to 16 million Clubcard customers.

The deal will allow Clubcard customers to use their Clubcard points to purchase gym passes for health clubs and leisure centres across the UK.

“Gyms and health clubs are always looking for innovative ways to promote to new customers and we wanted to find a national partner to help us get more people using the gyms that are listed at payasUgym.com,” says Harmsworth. “With over 16 million Clubcard customers, there is no company better placed to support this than Tesco, and with over 600 participating gyms and health clubs nationwide, payasUgym.com is the only gym network in the UK with the scale to support such a large initiative – so the deal made perfect sense for all parties. On a personal level it is extremely satisfying as it proves that payasUgym.com is now recognised as the first place that customers go when they are looking for a new gym."

PayasUgym was launched in February 2011. The service uses smartphone technology to allow customers to find a gym and pay for a visit without paying membership fees. The biggest challenge, says Harmsworth, has been educating the fitness industry about what PayasUgym actually offers.

“Many people in the industry assume that they know what we do based simply on our brand name,” he says. “There are 10 million lapsed gym members in the UK and we do a huge amount of work to get these people back into health and fitness. We spent over £1m on marketing to these customers in 2012 alone.

"Our business model only works if it generates new customers and new members for the gyms that we work with and I think we need to be a lot more vocal in educating the industry about what exactly we do.”

Details: www.payasugym.com


"There are 10 million lapsed gym members in the UK"

 



Customers buy an ePass from the payasUgym website which they redeem at the reception of their chosen gym

KP Kofler, founder, Pret a Diner

 

KP Kofler
 

KP Kofler, CEO of Kofler & Kompanie, the company behind pop up restaurant company Pret a Diner, is planning a range of events for 2013.

Pret a Diner offers pop up dining experiences that combine food by Michelin-starred chefs, a club lounge, music, a social club and art galleries. The last event was a pop up members’ club called The Burlington Social Club, held in the Senate Rooms at The Royal Academy, London. The event offered cocktails, dinner, music and an exhibition showcasing works by current Royal Academians.

“It was a mélange of surprising cuisine, masterly mixology, contemporary arts and music – for bohemians, culture vultures and art aficionados, urban explorers, lifestyle savants, food fanatics, business people and revelers,” said Kofler.

For 2013, Kofler says Pret a Diner is going to travel the world “making history one city at a time.

“In January 2013 we will go to an amazing unexpected location in Berlin. In March we go to sunny Rio de Janeiro for the Fashion week. LeBlon and Ipanema won't be the same after us! June is the month when we dive into the arts – Pret a Diner will open the Biennale in Venice and will be in Basel for Art Basel. Both locations are mind blowing. In late July and August we will rock Ibiza with a proper concept.In September we will come back to London, where we are scouting a location.”

KP Kofler’s family business, Kofler & Kompanie, is one of the most traditional names in the German catering business, dating back to the opening of the Kofler town bakery in Bad Homburg in 1823. The first Pret a Diner pop up restaurant launched in Berlin in January 2011.

“I wanted to create something awe-inspiring and consuming, tasty and surprising that would turn heads and leave a legacy,” says Kofler. “Together with the creative co-founder Olivia Steele and a handful of extremely creative people, we embarked on a journey to design the most avant-garde dining concept, but a temporary one. We wanted to explore ways of hooking the imagination of the public on food culture beyond the typical restaurant experience.”


"We wanted to explore ways of hooking the imagination of the public"

 



The Burlington Social Club ran from September to November 2012

Jillian MacLean, founder, Drake & Morgan

 

Jillian MacLean
 

Jillian MacLean, the founder and managing director of London bar and restaurant business Drake & Morgan, is preparing to open two further venues over the next year, bringing the portfolio to seven.

The 8,000sq ft, 230-cover Happenstance bar and restaurant is due to open in St Paul’s, London in autumn 2013, offering views of St Paul’s Cathedral, a bar, a deli, a private dining room, an open kitchen, a florist and a mixology table.

The second, as yet unnamed venue, will cover 10,000sq ft, and will offer 478 covers over three floors. It will be located at the Sixty London office development in Holborn and will feature a kitchen and bar, a deli, a florist and a cheese and wine room. It's due to open by the start of 2014.

They are both being designed by Fusion Design & Architecture.

“We've travelled to Asia, in particular Hong Kong and Shanghai, to look for inspiration for the design and offering,” says MacLean. “We'll be launching our cookery school at our venue at Sixty London and our flower and deli shop, Bottle and Blooms. Hopefully we'll give customers some delightful surprises in terms of design, food and drink."

MacLean launched Drake & Morgan in February 2008, with the first venue The Refinery, opening in Southwark, London. The company now has five venues, all in the City of London. The aim, says MacLean, is to make each venue individual, and to offer customers a personalised experience – these range from art exhibitions to mixology sessions and butchery classes.

MacLean was previously operations director for Novus Leisure, and before that worked for the Spirit Group, Tattershall Castle and Mitchells & Butlers Plc. In 2001, she was short-listed for Veuve Cliquot Woman of the Year, and won the Outstanding Entrepreneur Award at the Women 1st Shine Awards.

“There was a gap in the market for a fresh, independent, neighbourhood all-day bar and restaurant with great design and good attention to detail,” says MacLean of her decision to launch the company.

The biggest challenge, according to MacLean, was “finding the right sites. That continues to be a challenge for us as we like fairly large units in commercial districts.”

Details: www.drakeandmorgan.co.uk


"We travelled to Asia to look for inspiration"

 



The most recent venue, The Drift opened in June 2011 in Heron's Tower in Bishopsgate, London

John Oxley, managing director, Active Nation

In an effort to support the Olympic legacy and encourage more people to take up sport, John Oxley, the managing director of Active Nation, has committed to doing 50 sports before turning 50 in April 2013.

Active Nation is a national sport and exercise charity aiming to encourage the UK to become more active. The idea for Oxley’s ’50 Shades of Play’ initiative was born when Active Nation was reviewing its campaign activity post-Olympics, he says. “We were struck by the excitement that had been created but also wondered how we might encourage people to participate and not just spectate,” says Oxley. “I was conscious that I could do my bit to help. We have always been aware that people's lack of self esteem is used as a reason for not taking part in physical activity. I believe that if you have the desire and belief, then you can learn to play any sport in no time at all.”

The challenge kicked off at Woodmill Activities Centre in Southampton on 17 October with archery and kayaking.

Oxley hopes to raise more than £5,000 to support two charities – The Rising Stars programme, which provides funding for talented athletes for Rio 2016 and beyond, and the Sporting Chance initiative, which supports activities for people with physical and mental disabilities.

 “I also hope to raise the profile of sport as a means of increasing the level of physical activity in our communities as the gym or a class is not for everyone,” says Oxley. “I want to get out to the venues and be visible – inspiring the public, staff, clubs and supporters along the way.”

Details: www.sportinnotime.com


“I want to raise the profile of sport as the gym is not for everyone”

 



John Oxley

Originally published in Leisure Management 2013 issue 1

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