The conference was hosted at Arc Inspirations’ venue Banyan Newcastle last week (Thursday 18 May), where operators gathered to hear the latest insight about the sector.
Vaulkhard Group director Ollie Vaulkhard, Malhotra Group chief operating officer Atul Malhotra and Newcastle NE1 chief executive Stephen Patterson outlined what the city was like to operate in.
Vaulkhard said: “The city is unusual in that we are an island up here. We are 100 miles from Edinburgh, 100 miles from York, we are pretty much on our own in terms of geography.
“We’ve developed an identity and that’s what we’ve been helped by the fact now and historically there were four or five businesses, prominently privately-owned, family businesses that have always operated here, that has kept the nationals out because most of the old buildings are already in the ownership of these businesses.
“We all have respect for each other but we all want to be better than each other and because of that, we push standards and the customer experience, giving a very unique identity. It’s dominated by the independents and the nationals support.”
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Malhotra echoed Vaulkhard’s comments on the types of businesses within the city and how the customer base reacts to it.
He said: “Newcastle has always prided itself on local operators and the population are loyal to local operators.
“Over the past 20 years, the market has changed.”
NE1 is the business improvement district of Newcastle city centre, representing 1,400 businesses in total including more than 300 licensed premises.
Chief executive Stephen Patterson highlighted how the change in working habits has impacted the city.
“We haven’t seen the same challenges as central London has in terms of getting people back into offices,” he said.
“We are seeing a strong Tuesday to Thursday work pattern, not workers not coming to the office at all.
“That quite simply is because about 98% of our office workers lives within an hour’s drive time.”