Home' Hospitality Business : HB NOV 2015 Contents Hospitality BUSINESS | November 2015 | 35
The group has a healthy real estate portfolio in New Plymouth too,
as primary tenants in the histor ic White Hart Hotel, which is cur rently
being revamped to enhance an exciting hospitality precinct. It will be
home to the company’s head office, it's adjacent to the group’s boutique
King & Queen Hotel Suites, and Ozone Coffee Roasters Café is just
a bean’s throw away. And right across the road are the region’s creative
drawcards, the Govett-Brewster Galler y and impressive new Len Lye
Centre, plus the company’s latest offer ing, Monica’s Eatery.
Monica’s – also based on the working partners model – is a tribute to
Monica Brewster, a courageous, inspiring, community-spirited woman
of which the Govett-Brewster Gallery is one legacy. “We resonated
with Monica – her energy and passion for pushing boundar ies in
provincial New Zealand,” says Macfarlane, with his own vision of
creating a mini Britomart in New Plymouth certainly on track.
His hospitality career started 20 years ago, when he and Kate moved
up from Christchurch to open a café in Inglewood. Leaving behind
cor porate careers, they brought with them their energy, vision, and
sense of style to create a good thing, in partnership with Kate’s parents,
Russell and Marguer ite Boddington.
“The shift was primar ily driven by opportunity.We’d spotted a
histor ic building in need of major renovations but its homely appeal
resonated with many locals. It was comfortable, approachable and a
great launching pad for our first business.”
Inglewood was well located, linking south and north Taranaki and
intrinsically smart operators, the Macfarlanes realised the power of
good design and a café’s ability to act as a catalyst to further growth in
a small town.
“Four years into Macfarlane’s Inglewood, we moved into New
Plymouth, opening Macfarlane’s Café in Fielding in the inter im. This
was our first Macfarlane’s Espresso Bar which was about quick, fresh
and affordable with all food prepared at a remote site.”
Taking a broader look at the industry, Macfarlane says it’s changed
dramatically in two decades, “There used to be more hobbyists
involved; now quality coffee is cr itical and standards are incredibly high
it’s exciting if you’re up to it.”
Since he and Kate entered hospitality, accessibility to skilled staff is more
challenging, and for businesses survival today, Macfarlane advises operators
to build a sustainable business model with sufficient levels of investment
and infrastructure, “Hospitality’s certainly not for the faint-hearted and
those enter ing the industry need to have acumen. Margins are continually
squeezed and maintaining margins will be crucial for survival.”
A challenge for owners setting up in business is to create a point of
difference but access to unique building materials can be prohibitive,
“Mater ials are more affordable and accessible in the UK, for example.
New Zealand is an island, we’re isolated, and creating a point of
difference comes at a cost.You need to look at cost and likely return, and
that depends on the numbers of people the business can accommodate at
any one time and the return proportionate to turnover.”
Macfarlane acknowledges making a return on investment
and effort is harder but sees an increase in pay rates through the
minimum wage as contributing to a better sustainable business model
for the future of hospitality.
Some pointers for those who want to last the distance in the industry;
“New Zealand hospitality owners are at times too accepting of mediocr ity.
Look inwardly and understand your responsibility to deliver excellence,
then look at your perfor mance, measure it and be accountable.”
How to find the r ight site and venue model: “Know your market.
You have to do sufficient research and while time is of the essence,
don’t rush. Be considered over your model and have clar ity around
what your vision is; knowing what your customers aspire to is an
important part of this.”
Macfarlane advises getting strategic help around implementation,
“People often need help clar ifying end goals. Once they’re established,
then you can create the infrastructure to support the vision. Clar ity
comes when your point of difference is defined and that all hinges on
understanding the demographics around a new business. Then you
create a brand and suitable products for that target market.”
Many believe you need to be mad to work in hospitality but of
course Macfarlane disagrees, “I think successful operators are ver y well
adjusted – they have to be across many different categor ies. They love
people and business is like extended family.You personally don’t have to
be the best but have an awareness and energy and work with the r ight
skilled people or consult with hospitality specialists.
“Hospitality is a labour of love. It really has to be in your bones.
You’ve got to be motivated to succeed and want to apply yourself ever y
day. New Zealand’s hospitality and tour ism sector is the country’s single
largest employer and it needs to operate within more highly structured
systems – it’s simply what the industry deserves.” n
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