The Hot Scots Power 40: Stephen Leckie and John Jennett, Crieff Hydro hotel

21 February 2013
The Hot Scots Power 40: Stephen Leckie and John Jennett, Crieff Hydro hotel

Rating: 13

Stephen Leckie and John Jennett - Snapshot

Crieff Hydro has been in chief executive Stephen Leckie's family for more than 140 years. The four-star hotel has 200 bedrooms, 55 self-catering units, two restaurants, a 500-seat conference centre, a leisure centre, riding centre and a spa set on a 900-acre country estate in Perthshire. It currently turns over £17m a year and employs 550 people.

When John Jennett was appointed managing director in 2011, it was the first time that the hotel had appointed a senior manager from outside the family. Jennett, formerly sales and marketing director of the hotel, took over the role from Leckie, who represented the fifth generation of his family to run the hotel.

Leckie now focuses on opportunities for growth, while Jennett is overseeing the development of the Crieff Hydro brand and maintaining its reputation.

Stephen Leckie was always destined for the top job in the family hotel, but he more than earned it by following a traditional career path. In his youth, he worked in numerous hotels including St Andrews Old Course, Peebles Hydro and the Pillar hotel, before gaining a BA in hospitality and tourism from Edinburgh Napier University.

He then went on to become the youngest general manager at Queens Moat Houses when he took over the running of the Briggens House hotel in Hertfordshire at the age of 25, returning to take the reins as general manager at Crieff Hydro in 1994.

John Jennett has had a varied career in a range of sectors from IT to hotel finance and management. He was a managing director and shareholder with Freedom of the Glen Hotels until the group was sold in 2006. Under his stewardship, the estate was expanded, revenue increased and the group won awards for both staff training and development, and customer service. He became sales and marketing director of Crieff Hydro, before being made managing director in 2011.

With a degree in music and an MA in creative writing, Glasgow-born Jennett is also a successful published author, winning the Sceptre Prize for his Hebridean-set novel, Manadh, and a string of awards for his short stories and poetry. He believes his unique mix of the creative and the commercial underlines his success in business and his ability to lead winning teams.

Stephen Leckie and John Jennett - What we think

This is clearly a dynamic partnership, with both Leckie and Jennett bringing creative energy and commercial acumen to drive the business - which has been described by Scotland the Best as a national institution. They are also equally committed to driving the Scottish tourism industry forward, which benefits not just Crieff Hydro.

Leckie has proved himself to have a strong vision, investing £16m over the past nine years alone to create one of Scotland's leading independent resorts. As chief executive he has submitted ambitious plans to invest £100m into building 200 lodges and a 100-bedroom care home on a nearby greenfield site, a swimming pool, spa, cafe, nature reserve and observatory.

In 2012, he became a competitive player in the meetings and conferences market, spending £280,000 on two state-of-the-art spaces.

As well as taking his own business forward, he has shown commitment to Scottish tourism at both national and local levels. He is chairman of the Crieff Community Council; chair of the government's Tourism Leadership Group; president and director of Perthshire Chamber of Commerce; chair of the Scottish Tourism Alliance and is an active member of the British Hospitality Association.

In the meantime, Jennett has led continued growth at Crieff Hydro during challenging economic times. He has overseen the extensive rebranding and repositioning of the hotel during the recent multi-million pound refurbishment, as well as implementing a Pride and Passion programme to inspire and reward staff.

Besides rebranding to reflect the resort's independence and personality, the business has widened its appeal to leisure and conference customers. Recent investment has brought high-speed broadband and new conference facilities.

Jennett has streamlined revenue management and digital marketing to develop new revenue streams. He is evolving the business's approach to employees and won the Springboard "People Innovation Award" in October 2012 which was sponsored by the Hotel Employers Group.

Like Leckie, Jennett is committed to untapping the potential of Scotland's hospitality industry: "It has never been more important for the resort, and indeed Scotland, to maintain its competitive edge and capitalise on increasing interest in Scotland as a tourism destination."

Crieff Hydro website >>

Stephen Leckie takes over as general manager >>

John Jennett appointed general manager >>

Herald Scotland article >>

Scotsman article >>

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