Interview: Guy Bosworth Head Of Store Operations at Ole & Steen
We’re super excited to sit down with Guy Bosworth to find out more about revered bakery and patisserie Ole & Steen, and his role as Head of Operations.
Can you tell us a bit about your background?
I’ve been in hospitality and retail most of my life. I started off as a pot washer in a local pub at 16 and that was it, I got the “bug” and it never really left me. After Uni, I joined the Aldi graduate scheme which was, and still is, very highly regarded and it gave me a solid and rounded understanding of the sector. I then moved to KFC, which was a completely different culture, but I absolutely loved it. The ethos was deeply routed in people and that really stayed with me throughout my career.
I transitioned to Boots Opticians, and it was a great experience even though a very different sector to KFC. I then joined Pret, a business I had admired for a long time, and I was very pleased to have the opportunity to work with them. My role expanded after just 12 months into a regional director role, it was a very enjoyable time.
I am now Head of Operations at Ole & Steen, a smaller business than my previous roles but it’s an opportunity for me to help shape its future and make a difference on a wider scale. I’ve worked with some big corporate businesses that have given me a good toolkit that I can call upon. I’m taking the best bits and hopefully creating something amazing.
What should we know about Ole & Steen?
Ole & Steen are a Danish business best known for their handcrafted delicious breads and pastries. We are just over 5 years old in the UK and have over 100 stores in Denmark, soon to be 20 in the UK and 3 in the US. All our stores are in London except for 1 which is in Oxford. Despite the pandemic, we’ve grown and opened new stores and plan to open more this year.
What are the key factors in running a great store?
To start, it’s important that you have the right leaders in the business and that they not only understand what they are doing but are clear and focussed on the direction that they are steering the business.
What I try and instil, is a framework for autonomy which allows everybody the space and opportunity to thrive, and an environment where the parameters are clear. This year, we will give 13 to 15 people the opportunity to run one of our stores. They will be completely accountable for a multimillion-pound business. Given what everybody has been through in the last few years – that is very heart warming to me.
Motivation is important and one way to do this is to create some type of recognition system. Both KFC and Pret do this well and it is something I’ve brought into this business too. An example of this is to bring the leaders of all the stores together every quarter to talk about the business and its performance, but also to recognise the high performers. This creates a bit of competition and excitement which to me is important in keeping teams motivated.
We spend a lot of time at work so making sure that people are really enjoying their job is important. As leaders, we don’t always get it right, but listening to feedback helps. Feedback gives you a good insight to what is and what isn’t working from around the business. .
What are some of the challenges for you?
Volatility. Things are changing all the time, for example this week it was reported in the news that three out of four Londoners ‘vowed’ to never return to the office full time. What this means is that the ‘shape’ of the week is changing. Where Friday used to be the biggest day of the week for hospitality, this is no longer the case. As a business, we need to understand these changes and react to them as best we can.
The cost of living ‘crisis’ as well as inflation is also pertinent right now. We don’t really understand what this will mean yet – Are people going to eat out less or at cheaper restaurants? Will they reduce their spending or reduce how often they are going out? The dynamic of what and how customers are going to spend is changing and might remain volatile for a time.
As a smaller operation, Ole & Steen can react faster. We can see how the shape of the week is changing and communicate that across the business to reforecast if necessary. We can be far nimbler than a business that has 300 or more stores for example.
Any top tips for the recruitment challenge in hospitality?
There is no silver bullet for recruitment. You need to look very closely at all the small details. Have you got the right package? Are the incentives exciting? Are we attracting the right people? Are we on the right platform? Are we working with the right recruitment consultants? Have we got a slick process in place for new applications through to hire?
Then, you really need to look at the onboarding process. The first three months are critical and if you can get that right, you will see retention building. You need to constantly be looking at the onboarding and training materials too – these are important for making sure that you keep the people you’ve got and give the new hire the best experience possible.
There is a lot of pressure on finding good resources right now but we’re all in the same boat. What we need to do is show potential recruits the opportunities and career progression in the industry. Using real life stories is an effective way to do this.
I like to use examples of where someone has joined as a team member and then moved to a team leader, an assistant manager, a general manager, etc. As a relatively young business, we don’t have many of these examples yet, but we do have some and we’re using them. This is something I will be building out over the next 12 months.
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