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Hotel Cateys 2019: Food and Beverage Manager of the Year

29 November 2019
Hotel Cateys 2019: Food and Beverage Manager of the Year

2019 winner: Alex Cooper, Haymarket hotel

Sponsored by Britvic

Our judges were hugely impressed with the diversity of the initiatives launched by our winner to boost the F&B turnover of Firmdale's Haymarket hotel in London's West End.

Alex Cooper began his career with Firmdale, joining as a waiter straight out of school in 2009. Seven months later he became Firmdale's youngest supervisor at just 18 years old.

In his time with the hotel group, he has been part of the opening team of Dorset Square in 2012 and Ham Yard hotel in 2014, delivering excellent results. He then took on a new challenge as restaurant manager at the Haymarket hotel, achieving record figures. Accordingly he was promoted to food and beverage manager for the hotel in February 2017. In this role he overseas the Brumus restaurant and bar, as well as room service and several event spaces.

His time in the position has seen turnover exceed £4m, an increase of 7% year-on-year, with covers in the restaurant growing by 500 a month to an average of 5,200. He has also overseen a 10% rise in bar revenue, a 27% hike in afternoon tea takings and record room-service revenue, which saw a 25% uptick. On top of this, staff retention across F&B departments now stands at 85%.

His achievements have been credited in part to his working with kitchen, bar and front of house teams to continually develop the hotel's F&B offer. This has resulted in a yearly calendar of promotions and events developed, including a partnership with Nyetimber to mark asparagus season that raised £10,500.

Other initiatives include a children's afternoon tea based around a bear hunt, a summer ice-cream cart that added £3,000 a month to dessert revenue, a picnic hamper menu which raised £3,500 a month, and a premium wine and Champagne mini bar for suites that has brought in £5,000 in sales.

Cooper has also introduced incentives each month for teams to generate extra sales and revenue alongside developing training and feedback schemes to support them. Such training schemes include a masterclass programme, in which an F&B manager is invited to demonstrate their skills to teams. The result of his efforts has been 14 promotions from his team in the past year.

On top of all this, Cooper takes the time to organise initiatives for charity. He runs an annual afternoon tea for the national charity Contact the Elderly and the Christmas shoebox appeal for the Samaritans.

WHAT THE JUDGES SAID

"Alex has grown within the company and committed to self and team development. Great marketing initiatives."

Moses Solomon, F&B manager, RAC Club

"Lovely examples of team development, concept development, pushing boundaries, community engagement and leading by example. All of the attributes looked for by the judges for the winner of a national award."

Peter Bradley, director of F&B, St Pancras Renaissance Hotel London

"Alex developed tremendously within the property and during this time he continuously demonstrated great leadership skills, he cared for his team and guests. A true asset to the F&B industry."

Nuno César de Sá, hotel manager, Rudding Park

THE SHORTLIST

  • Pedro Branco London Marriott Hotel County Hall, London
  • Alex Cooper Haymarket hotel, London
  • Tegan Farrell Park Plaza Westminster Bridge, London

PAST WINNERS

  • 2018 Alice Bussi, Seren Collection
  • 2017 Arjeta Arapi, The Montague on the Gardens, London
  • 2016 Simon Seis, Park Plaza Westminster Bridge, London
  • 2015 Sarah Williams, Ham Yard hotel, London
  • 2014 Axelle Besson, Lancaster London
  • 2013 Peter Bradley, The Montague on the Gardens, London
  • 2012 Moses Solomon, Flemings Mayfair, London
  • 2011 Amit Jaitly, Hilton Birmingham Metropole
  • 2010 James Clarke, Grosvenor House, London
  • 2009 Erick Kervaon, South Lodge hotel, near Horsham, West Sussex
  • 2008 Richard Ellison, Old Course Hotel, Golf Resort & Spa
  • 2007 Paul Boyce, Malmaison and Hotel du Vin

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