The Living Ventures-founded company, which launched in 2012 and is now run separately from the main business, will have 11 sites by the end of the year and sees its staff’s knowledge and training as key to building the business.
“We invest nearly £100k per site in the training process and I think that’s unparalleled in the pub industry,” said Hill, who started out as a supervisor of a Living Ventures branch 12 years ago before moving up the ranks to lead NWTC.
“From the moment we started we have invested time and money into all our staff at all levels and ultimately that shines through. The pub sector isn’t renowned for the way it trains its bar and kitchen staff in a way that now people associate with restaurant service.
“If we do that level of training in a pub environment we end up with very, very good service and that has been core to our success.”
NWTC’s training scheme sees each member of staff carefully recruited before a site opens. Each recruit is given training in the classroom in a variety of areas, including how to prepare a number of drinks, plus made responsible for stocking and prepping the bar area.
Once the venue is open, employees are offered further training which comes with recognition and a pay rise. For example, bartenders who successfully learn how to make the Top 100 - the world’s favourite 100 cocktails, are given a pay rise and the chance to earn the bar blade. Those qualifying as a Master of Beer add an extra 50p an hour to their pay.
The process helps with retention and progression, says Hill who is already seeing staff from sites take on roles at head office.
“We try and find people who want to do the job. Some people fall away in the first couple of days, but those who stay remain with us for a long time,” said Hill.
Since opening The Botanist in Birmingham in April (and subsequently The Trading House in London in June) the company has only seen two bartenders leave.
“The training is one of those things, but it t works on many levels so you have a virtuous spiral,” said Hill. “You train someone well and they appreciate that, but you also get that buy-in. They feel that that bar’s theirs.”
Hill said the focus on training and retention would be integral to future openings.
The company will open its 10th site in Glasgow this autumn before another opens in Marlow in November. A Botanist is also planned for Farnham and the company is currently creating a 600-cover Hampton’s beach house called The Clubhouse, which will open on the top of Liverpool ONE early next year.
“As well as that we’re involved in legals on another four or five sites,” said Hill. “The beauty of the NWTC is nowhere is off the radar. Because we’ve shown that our model works in a number of locations, nowhere is off limits.”