Caterer and Hotelkeeper 100: Jillian MacLean, Drake & Morgan

06 December 2012
Caterer and Hotelkeeper 100: Jillian MacLean, Drake & Morgan

Overall ranking: 50 (NEW ENTRY)
Pub ranking: 7 (NEW ENTRY)

Jillian MacLean - Snapshot Jillian MacLean is founder and managing director of Drake & Morgan, which started in 2008 with the Refinery in Southwark. The business currently operates five bar restaurants in London, with plans for two more in 2013. For the 52 weeks to 31 March 2012, Drake & Morgan reported pre-tax profits of £1.3m on turnover up 44.3% to £16.4m.

Jillian MacLean - Career guide Jillian MacLean has worked extensively in the hospitality trade. Her parents ran a hotel in Largs, West Scotland, and on leaving school she worked in a local hotel run by Tennent Caledonian Breweries, owned by Bass. She worked for 20 years in the Bass pubs division, which became Mitchells & Butlers, rising through the ranks into operational roles, and was involved the development of brands including Ember Inns and Nicholson's. After stints as operations director with Spirit Group and Novus Leisure, she founded Drake & Morgan in 2008.

Jillian MacLean - What we think The fact that Jillian MacLean named her business after English explorer Sir Francis Drake and Welsh privateer Captain Morgan reflects the buccaneering spirit of an entrepreneur who has sailed the choppy waters of the bar trade to carve out her own empire. Drake & Morgan's rivals and former employers might be forgiven for thinking that using the names of a couple of old pirates is fitting for an operation that has pressganged so many of their former customers through its doors. Drake & Morgan's bars - the Refinery, the Parlour in Canary Wharf, the Anthologist, the Folly in the City and the Drift on Bishopsgate - exert an influence far out of proportion to the relatively modest size of the business is primarily due to getting the entire package right.

From the contemporary design of each business, via well-presented food using seasonal, locally sourced ingredients, to a good range of wines available by the glass and innovative cocktails, the various elements that make up the whole are underscored by great service from enthusiastic, motivated staff.

The timing of MacLean's decision to fly solo, just as the economy went south, might have raised some eyebrows, but in a recent interview with The Publican's Morning Advertiser, she made the point that the Chinese word for ‘crisis' also means ‘opportunity'

"I saw my chance with the recession. I thought that gastropubs had become overpriced, and that a lot of brands hadn't moved their offer on. There was a chance to create a new proposition, a casual, accessible bar-restaurant with good design at a lower price-point."

The industry accolades notched up by Drake & Morgan are strong indicators of the esteem the business is held in. Along with a maximum three-star rating from the Sustainable Restaurant Association, the trophy cabinet includes design awards for individual venues, Best Emerging Concept in the 2011 Retailers Retailer of the year Awards, and personal accolades for Maclean including a Pub and Bar Catey in 2010 and Outstanding Entrepreneur Award in the 2011 Women 1st Shine Awards.

The coming year will see the opening of two further venues, the Happenstance in St Paul's Churchyard and the Haberdashery at Holborn. For the buccaneering Drake & Morgan, the voyage seems to have barely started.

Drake & Morgan celebrates record annual profits >>

Drake & Morgan to open two new sites in 2013 >>

Drake & Morgan website >>

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