Ex-England cricketers’ pubco empowers staff

By Gary Lloyd

- Last updated on GMT

Covers drive: Cat & Wickets owners Harry Gurney and Stuart Broad
Covers drive: Cat & Wickets owners Harry Gurney and Stuart Broad

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Teamwork certainly makes the dream work at The Cat & Wickets Pub Company, which is owned by ex-England cricketers Stuart Broad and Harry Gurney.

In celebration of International Week of Happiness at Work, The Cat & Wickets Pub Company is celebrating the strength of its teams at its gastropubs in Leicestershire: the Griffin Inn​ in Swithland and the Tap & Run​ in Upper Broughton.

After fire ravaged the Tap & Run​ in June 2022, it reopened in June this year​ and to the delight of its owners, the majority of the original team returned to work at the venue, under the management of general manager Jack Whitehead.

Whitehead said: “In an industry where staff turnover can be high, this is really unusual. Not only do Harry and Stuart think frequent training is vital but they really believe in the power of the team’s autonomy.”

On giving team members power in the workplace, Gurney told The Morning Advertiser​: “I don’t think anyone in a professional environment wants to feel like they’re at school. So within certain limits, we provide autonomy.

“It can be little things like if a member of the team wants to do some coffees on the house for a table because they think there’s an appropriate reason for it, I’d like them to do that without having to get a manager’s consent and that goes for higher up the chain as well.

“We manage the business largely on data on a week-by-week basis so, as long as the KPIs are being met, I’m happy to give our management leeway on how they achieve that.”

Wow moments

There are occasions known as ‘wow moments’ where staff are allowed to go the extra mile for guests and Gurney explained one that took place recently, which was very emotional.

“There was a lady that came into the Tap & Run recently who dined on her own. She got chatting to the assistant manager, Anna Mooney, and it transpired she had a table booked to come in with someone else before the fire, who was a big cricket fan. Unfortunately, during the time we were closed, her friend had passed away very sadly.

“Anna, was racking her brains because it didn’t feel appropriate to send Champagne over or a dessert or a coffee. What could we possibly do for this lady? Anna went upstairs to the stockroom and got one of staff T-shirts with the Cat & Wickets pub company logo on it and gifted it to her as she was leaving the building and she burst into tears. She was just so grateful.”

He added he expects staff to give away a certain amount each month and took inspiration to do so from Pret a Manger and also from a book titled Unreasonable Hospitality​ by Will Guidara.

“We’re competing against some much bigger companies than us who won’t necessarily have the ability to be nimble like that in service and it gives us a point of difference,” he said.

He added staff are allowed to go on pretty much any training course they want within reason and looks to those being proactive and wanting to learn something new.

There are also bonus schemes and there will be a big Christmas party on 20 November this year where he expects some awards to be handed out.

Sense of accomplishment

Meanwhile, Mooney added: “This act of empowerment and trust from Harry and Stuart really helps to give our team a huge sense of accomplishment in their work – they know they can go home and know they’ve helped to make someone’s day.

The Griffin Inn general manager Sam Dimblebee, who is a new addition to the team, said: “There’s truly something different about the teams that work across both pubs. People aren’t just here to work. There’s an undeniable team spirit and morale that comes right from the top. Harry and Stuart are fantastic at providing training, support and encouragement, and that filters across the whole company.”

Broad, who announced his retirement from all forms of cricket before the Fifth Ashes Test in July, said: “Team spirit is truly the name of the game across The Cat & Wickets Pub Company. We have a fantastic team here that we don’t take for granted and we’ll continue looking for ways we can make sure each and every person leaves the pub at the end of every shift with a smile.”

Does this mean Broad will be around more to help out the pub business?

Gurney told The MA​: “I wouldn’t say he’s going to be hands-on in the pubs – I don’t even pull pints, let alone him. But is he going be more involved? Yes, that is my hope.

“In the past three months since he retired, he’s been busier than he ever was as a player but I think he’s hoping, over the coming months, it’ll start to change a little bit and he’s looking forward to getting more and more involved.”

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