Restaurant group Kained Holdings takes an unconventional approach to training

TRAINING is a prerequisite for everyone in the licensed trade but Glasgow-based bar and restaurant group Kained Holdings is taking a more unconventional approach – by preparing its top employees to leave the business, writes Karen Peattie.

Kained Holdings, very much at the forefront of the transformation of the city’s Finnieston area, has launched a bespoke management development programme which provides staff with the tools to run their own business. In doing so, the company is actively encouraging graduates from the programme to take it on at its own game.

The group’s three founding directors – Scott Arnot, Mo Clark and Graham Suttle – opened Lebowski’s 10 years ago and have since launched a further eight venues. Arnot, who devised and designed the new training programme, explained: “To continue to do what we do, we need the very best people the industry has to offer. We have to be competitive.”

Arnot said: “We are honest with our staff – the company’s growth is strategic so not everyone can be promoted to area manager and that’s why we have to look at other ways to attract the best staff to be part of our journey.

“We want to provide our employees with the skills, experience and training to one day run their own business. If that means they become competitors, then we’ll just have to be up to the challenge.”

Kained Holdings, he continued, will benefit from having “more talented, engaged and enthusiast people working across our venues” – resulting in a situation which will ultimately benefit customers.

This new programme involves employees travelling across Europe and the Americas where they can experience the latest food and drink trends in the hospitality sector as well as new techniques and approaches.

The 360-degree nature of the feedback has identified strengths and weaknesses across the entire Kained Holdings staff – from directors to part-time team members. This allows the company to deliver the best possible support for individuals.

As part of the programme, each employee is tasked with producing their own business plan. This plan is then reviewed and improved by the team in preparation for trainees to present to landlords and pubcos.

Meanwhile, the “stagiaire” – the French word for an apprenticeship – is also a big part of staff development. Chefs across the business are encouraged to visit restaurants across Scotland and beyond in order to expose themselves to new techniques and cuisines.

Dave Hetherington, head chef at The Finnieston, is currently enrolled in the programme. “There’s a brilliant culture here where everybody pushes each other to be the best they can be,” he said. “We’re always looking for ways to surprise and delight our customers, and will go above and beyond to do so.

“Chefs at The Finnieston are encouraged to understand the journey from sea to plate and often shadow fishmongers,” he continued. “While I will always love creating dishes, I aspire to step out of the kitchen – the management development programme will give me the tools to help me do that.”

Kained Holdings, which now has a turnover of more than £8 million, currently supports a number of charitable organisations, including The Prince’s Trust, Action for Children and Yes Chef. The company recently became an official partner of Glasgow Warriors.

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