Brighton Pier Group have been motoring on its road to recovery, picking up Lightwater Valley in the process. But they’ve worked hard at it, in some cases harder than they possibly needed to with government messaging, particularly these past two weeks, proving ‘very damaging to the hospitality trade’. Anne Ackord explores a new way of thinking about recruitment and training and keeping ahead of changing attitudes towards work.
ANNE ACKORD CHIEF EXECUTIVE BRIGHTON PIER GROUP
Coinslot: A year that opened in lockdown, staggered through to reopening, via a supply chain crisis and ending with Omicron: how will you look back on 2021?
Anne Ackord: It’s been a year marked by significant hurdles, with the highs clearly trading again and seeing some good performances across the Group.
But, like everyone in the industry, this has been underpinned by recruitment and supply issues that remain with us and will require a long term solution.
Coinslot: We’ve had five months since re-opening, what were your highlights of the year?
Anne Ackord: The June acquisition of Lightwater Valley, our theme park in North Yorkshire, was the undoubted highlight, as was the performance of the bars estate upon re-opening.
Coinslot: 2021 has been a major challenge to the way our businesses operate. How have you risen to this challenge and what new developments are you introducing to rebuild and strengthen your operation?
Anne Ackord: We have been relooking at how we recruit and train and have moved far more towards digital learning for inductions and on job training.
Also, there is a huge shift towards part time work. Whether it’s a reflection of the lockdown experience, but attitudes to work have changed and we need to get a clear understanding of the mindset of the people we aim to recruit.
The industry as a whole needs to promote itself as a great place to work and most importantly one where career development is a real option.
Coinslot: What are you looking or hoping for in 2022 and what’s on your New Year’s wish list?
Anne Ackord: I hope we suffer less form knee jerk reactions from the government in response to new covid variants/ outbreaks.
Careless words cost jobs and the comments of some ministers in relation to Omicron have been very damaging to the hospitality trade leading up until Christmas.
The rearguard action of the Prime Minister and others saying ‘no it’s ok, just do what you feel safe doing’ is ineffective and lacks a sense of responsibility towards our sector.
My wish is that we can avoid any surges in serious covid cases and that the government works on the fundamental issues surrounding the NHS, not enough nurses, not enough doctors and hospitals and too many bureaucratic systems within it.
These are the reasons the NHS is overwhelmed and it needs addressing.