THE BLOG

One Point of View

10/02/2014 14:56 GMT | Updated 11/04/2014 10:59 BST

"A business that originates from one point of view has distinct advantages over one that comes with disparate set of ideas as it makes it far easier for customers to 'get' you".

The Turtle Bay team and I have been busy with the festive period. For most in the hospitality business, this time of year is very important - not only because it is busy and sales are healthy but also because it is a period in which we get introduced to new customers, often through party organisers.

As I've been visiting our restaurants, it has occurred to me that one of the reasons Turtle Bay has been successful so far is that we approach everything from one point of view. We have spicy food, rum cocktails and reggae music, served by friendly people in a uniquely Caribbean environment. But everything we do is designed to give one cohesive experience.

I think a business that originates from one point of view has distinct advantages over one that comes with disparate set of ideas as it makes it far easier for customers to "get" you. As I was talking to some of our new guests, it became obvious how important it is that, as we grow, we continue to approach the business from this clear perspective.

I can, on the other hand, contrast this with recent experiences I have had when trying to open two new restaurants around the country, in locations as diverse as Leamington Spa and Cardiff.

In Leamington Spa, we found a retail unit empty since 2005, in a scheme which had failed since it opened. We agreed heads of terms with the landlord, subject to planning and licensing. We were then approached by the Local Economic Development Office, responsible for inward investment, expressing excitement about our plans to spend £1m on an empty retail space and create around 60 jobs. One would have thought life would be simpler from then onwards. If only.

The officers in the Planning Department were supportive but the Planning Committee didn't necessarily agree with the officer's advice. One councillor wondered whether the site had been empty for so long because the landlord had not tried hard enough to let it to a retailer. He did not appreciate the impact of economics and the Internet on the British high street.

Another councillor speculated if there was even a need for any further restaurants in the centre since, from her point of view, people do not eat and shop on the same trip. Of course, this goes against most people's experiences and research.

Licensing has been equally difficult. This experience has been almost identical in Cardiff. In Cardiff, we couldn't even get a meeting with the Planning Department.

There has been a lot of discussion in the press about why London is raising ahead in terms of economic growth and vibrancy, and why London is so successful in attracting investment and brains from the rest of the UK. Frankly, above experiences may go some way to explain why the ambitious, the talented, the energetic, the enthusiastic all want to go to London.

If these Local Authorities believe that they are not competing for investment and talent with other cities, they then need to wake up. Really interesting thing about my experience with these two locations is, none of the Councillors had any point of view about how to revive their cities. They believe their job is to become "fun police". Let us stop our population enjoying themselves!

In both locations, we feel we will get there in the end - but with considerable and unnecessary hassle in terms of time and money.

Given that we've been in one of the longest recessionary periods in recent history, it made me wonder: if each business or authority had chosen to present "one point of view", might we have come out of the recession sooner?

Of course, this is just one point of view.