Whitbread’s former kitchen template manager Stevie Munro has launched his own consultancy, focusing on commercial kitchen design, specification and operational improvements.
The business he has set up, SLM Commercial Kitchen Consultants, will also offer consultancy and business development services to manufacturers, as well as project management support.
“The support from Whitbread has been fantastic. We need to remember that these great companies and institutions need to tackle this ongoing crisis smartly to ensure they can come out the other side stronger,” he told FEJ.
“If no action is taken, then the overall outcome can be worse. I am one of the lucky ones as the support I received was great, and I am thankful. I am aware that sadly others might not be as fortunate and it’s key that we support everyone within our industry to get through this. Sometimes just picking the phone up for a 10-minute chat can make all the difference.”
During his time at the Premier Inn and Beefeater owner, Mr Munro was involved in managing the end-to-end process of all kitchen investment works, from the design phase and install through to end-user training and engagement.
Working on the new openings side of the business was one of the highlights of the job. “Taking a new team member and building them to be confident chefs going into opening was always rewarding,” he said.
“Within the kitchen template side of my previous role, it was always great to see that new piece of equipment or investment supporting the team operationally to drive food quality and operational efficiency.”
Mr Munro said that the development support and training he received at Whitbread has allowed him to expand his knowledge and industry contacts – and given him the confidence to start his own venture.
“I was lucky enough during my last 18 months to spend time working alongside [kitchen platforms manager] Michael Jessop and [operational risk, systems and support manager] Nathan Griffin, who are experts in their field and were always keen to pass on knowledge.
“Since setting up my own company within the industry it has been fantastic to continue to grow the great relationships and friendships and hopefully provide a service that can make a difference and help.
“It has given me the opportunity to explore many more new products and services that drive innovation and growth. Every day is a learning day and things thus far have been positive.”
The past six months have seen a glut of catering equipment personnel of Mr Munro’s calibre depart their position as operators have restructured their businesses in response to Covid-19.
While there is real concern that people with operator experience and specification skills could be lost from the industry forever, Mr Munro believes the need for such knowledge and expertise is never going to go away.
“It is a key part of any hospitality organisation to keep up with the times and grow from an equipment and layout perspective. It’s an industry and service that’s based on engagement – we must protect that. I’m confident that the pain and challenges we currently face now can be overcome and we can get back to where we need to be.”