ITCM’s Briony Key meets Stewart Campbell, MD of BDL ManagementStewart Campbell is in charge of a fast-growing portfolio, but he took time out to host a party to thank everyone who has worked with BDL over the past year – and to talk to ITCM about the company’s future plans. I caught up with him at the Crowne Plaza London Docklands just before the champagne started to flow.
Glasgow-based BDL Management is the UK’s largest multi-brand and hotel management company for both branded and stand-alone hotels. And Stewart has plenty of news to share.
He told ITCM: ‘Doubletree Hilton will join BDL next spring, with plans to convert The Landmark Hotel in Dundee to a Doubletree by Hilton, which will include five meeting rooms and capacity for up to 200 delegates. ‘We also have plans to build a 100-bedroom hotel in Shetland in 2013, supported by £6.5m RBS backing.’ BDL has 48 hotels, 35 of which it manages, nine of which were built by the company and are owned by its shareholders and four which it built and sold, but still manages.
For an MD who has only been in the post just over one year, Stewart is certainly ambitious. His aim is to grow BDL’s portfolio to 75 properties by 2014.
So, what does he see as the secret behind BDL’s success?
‘I am passionate about people,’ Stewart enthuses. ‘If you get the right people for the right posts it has to be positive. You can tell if a hotel is well run within the first five minutes of walking in.’ He’s certainly on track to keep his valuable pool of people. ITCM learnt that BDL recently won the Springboard Award for the best chef strategy, which credited the company’s ability to raise the profile of the hospitality sector as an employer and to attract and retain talent.
‘We need to avoid the brain drain and ensure our industry makes working in hotels a good career choice for young chefs, as we really don’t want to lose such creative talent,’ says Stewart.
To support this goal, BDL has launched a Chefs Academy to retain and develop young chefs. It offers a monitoring programme and consistently challenges the young talent with a calendar of competitions to develop technical skills and confidence.
‘These initiatives have many benefits, including a better customer experience through improved food quality,’ Stewart maintains.
He also went back to the floor as part of the Celebrate Service initiative, which saw him working in the maintenance team at the Ramada Encore, Birmingham, to help promote excellence in service.
He sums up: ‘There is a fantastic spirit in a happy hotel and I think that’s why it is easy to be passionate about our industry. BDL focuses on exceptional service by exceptional people - and it’s great to be a part of it.’