In the frenetic, kinetic chaos of the early lockdown days, I distinctly remember a conversation with Robin Rowland, former CEO of Yo! Sushi and now partner at restaurant investment group TriSpan, writes Mark Stretton.
Amid the turmoil of a hospitality industry reacting to enforced closure, Robin said (and paraphrasing) that this crisis would necessarily spark a new era of collaboration: those that could connect people, forge partnerships, exchange ideas and shared learnings, and create mutually beneficial opportunities, would survive and prosper.
The context was the many industry collectives springing up to meet the myriad challenges, tackling tasks like switching to delivery and take out, or supporting Food For Heroes (or Feed NHS as it became) and Only A Pavement Away’s Hospitality Against Homelessness.
And his words resonated for all of the above. But they also carried added weight – for the brave new world we were contemplating; a collaboration of our own (and one that we had been talking about for a wee while) with one of hospitality and leisure’s outstanding marketers, communicators and strategists (and connectors), Ann Elliott.
We are of course ecstatic that this has now happened. Ann has joined the fold as a senior director and advisor, helping to further build and shape how we help our clients understand their place in the world, their customers (and what they are thinking and feeling), and how they best tell their story, create a differentiated position, and drive relevancy and engagement.
With Robin Rowland’s words ringing in our ears, it feels like a game changer to be able to team up with someone like Ann, who is a hugely respected and impeccably-connected, formidable figure in the world of UK eating and drinking out.
Over the past few months, it’s clear that Ann has been at the centre of driving industry discussions with other thought leaders on how we move through and past the current crisis, and has been pivotal in helping to shape the industry’s collective strategy and response. To be collaborating with someone of her standing, not to mention skill, knowledge, know-how and experience is just brilliant.
As well as working strategically with clients, Ann – who has held senior marketing and operations director roles in the eating and drinking out market and for many years headed her own, leading eponymous agency Elliotts – will also advise on growth, strategy and service development.
Shaping our services
Ann will help us establish a research and insight practice, helping clients to better understand the challenges and opportunities they face – now and in the future. She will also draw on her massive knowledge and experience to help us develop our team and further shape client services and delivery.
She will do this alongside a clutch of other select roles, such as serving on the board of Wireless Social and acting as advisor to corporate finance advisory boutique, Tamweel (and watch this space as I for one am certain more will follow as others seek to tap in to her huge expertise)…not to mention her other on-going commitments – as a NED, speaker and facilitator, a co-founder of Plan B mentoring, a founder of the Hartwell Dinner Group, an Arena board member, and a member of both the events and casual dining committees at UKHospitality.
The new adventure starts here.
This notion of a new era of co-operation does not by any stretch end here; both Ann and I are fully paid up members of the collaboration club – a belief that we are indeed in a new era of partnership. I am certain we will continue to build on this development, working with other outstanding individuals such as our superb partners from the 100-Day Playbook initiative, like Supersonic’s Mark McCulloch, KAM Media’s Katy Moses and Katie Jenkins, the guys at Memo, Wireless Social, Feed It Back, 2 Forks and many more.
Mark Stretton is co-founder and MD of Fleet Street Communications