I started my career washing dishes in my Dad's hotel and some say I peaked too early! Hotels were in my blood so after school I went to University at Guildford where I spent four years pretending to study whilst enjoying myself far too much and therefore received the time honoured traditional reward f - a Desmond (2:2 to the uninitiated). Armed with my degree in Hotel Management and having spent a year learning how to speak Belgian French in Brussels during my industrial year, the world of work beckoned, and so to a trainee manager's job in London...
I worked at the Cumberland Hotel Kitchens for 6 months - yes anyone who doubts my catering credentials - I done my time - mostly chopping veg and carving hunks of meat but I did a bit of creative stuff too and loved every minute. I ended up via stints at various airport and west end hotels to a job as Food and Beverage Manager at the Cavendish Hotel in London and then moved up to Manchester as Hotel Manager of one of the airport hotels. I then moved away from the corporate world of large hotel companies to the less corporate world of small hotel companies. I built and opened a new hotel (well not with my own two hands - it felt like I did actually) in Lancashire and successfully ran a large nightclub as well as two hotels and then I met my erstwhile partner Tim Bacon, and the rest as they say is history......
Tim and I joined forces in 1996 with a third partner Dave and set up Life Restaurants. We developed the Via Vita cafe bar - A Mediterranean concept all blues and oranges, very nineties and I think we started that trend. Sorry! This was a joint venture with Marstons brewery our first investors who then after a whirlwind 2 years decided to buy us out of the business. So begun our habit for building businesses.
Next came Life Cafe and after Dave's departure, to build houses and reconcile himself with his first love (his guitar!), finally came The Living Room which we developed to a major high street brand before selling it to concentrate on the Est Est Est estate we had bought from The Restaurant Group. We converted those into our Gusto and Blackhouse brands. In the very early days Tim worked Operations and Front of House and I did Back of House and the numbers. But that was a long tome ago.
The business has been built around a great team of people many of whom are still here which enabled us to create businesses over the years like The New World Trading Company, The Alchemist, Australasia, Artisan and recently Grand Pacific.
Our business model enabled Tim and I to assist the various investors we have and to direct the teams in each of the businesses whilst allowing them the autonomy needed to allow them to grow these businesses themselves. It's great fun and I can safely say I am still living the original dream Tim and I had for Living Ventures all those years ago!
Sadly, Tim succumbed to cancer in April 2016 and I lost not only my business partner but my best friend. One of my proudest achievements in business is having worked with him and continued that partnership for twenty years. I’m also very proud to have established the Tim Bacon Foundation in Tim’s memory - which aims to help people living with cancer. timbaconfoundation.co.uk
My most important job starts when I am not at work but at home in Cheshire. Playing tennis or walking the dogs! I am married to Jane - we met at University WOW! Where did all that time go? We have a beautiful family who are all of a sudden all grown up! Alex graduated with a degree in Economics from Liverpool University recently and is now economically viable - hurrah! And Alice who loves anything and everything to do with horses also graduated recently from the Royal Agricultural University in Cirencester and is now doing a Masters at the RAU. And finally Zac who is also studying at Liverpool University and is just good at anything involving a ball. He shares my love of tennis and secretly goes easy on me!
That just leaves Jane and I with the three dogs Maddie, a Welsh Collie and our two Labradors Bella and Max.
Group Managing Director
I hail from the great city of Liverpool, anybody who has met me would know this by the accent not the curly perm.
I left Liverpool after my A levels to study mathematics, statistics and computing down in the big smoke quickly learning that London was not the best choice for an impoverished student. Basic economics and the need to spend some time with people who were not as socially inept meant I ventured into bar work, so I finished university with mediocrity and decided to forge a career in our beloved industry much to the dismay of my parents who had such high hopes for me.
After a few years of this I decided to up sticks and move to LA, apart from the facts that I’d never been there and I didn’t know anybody - what could possibly go wrong. I had the most tremendous 3 ½ years running a bar in Hollywood and coaching football but then decided to move to New York, well you just would wouldn’t you, and worked in an East Village restaurant for a year.
So after London, LA and NY where could I possibly go next…….I moved back to Liverpool expecting a fanfare, keys to the city and at least an open top bus. This didn’t quite work out as expected so I moved back to London to work with some supermodels in the not so successful restaurant venture Fashion Cafe, I do not remember who they are but I think they still remember me!
So it was back to Liverpool for either the Football Club or Living Ventures, needless to say I have been here for 14 years plus now with more job titles than I care to recall but am still excited by my job as much now as ever. I am massively improved by my beautiful wife Karen who I stole from Northern Ireland and being typically dad’ish to the most amazing son Lucca who I am incredibly proud of.
So that’s me, thank you for donating a few minutes you’ll never get back!
Group Chef Director
The early part of my career was focused in 4 and 5 star hotels in the south; The Complete Angler in Marlow, The Inn the Park on Park Lane and the Oakley Court Hotel In Windsor. I returned to the north to take my first Head Chef position at the Chalon Court Hotel in St Helens, this was a new 4 star hotel owned by Pilkington’s the glass manufacturers, this was where I met Jeremy as he was the General Manager. I left Chalon Court to take an Executive Head Chef position with Queens Moat House in Stoke on Trent, 5 months into the job I met up with Jez and he offered me a chance to join him and Tim in their new business Via Vita…that was 16 years ago and I can’t say I have every looked back.
At Living Ventures I deal with all aspects of food within all our businesses, I lead our teams of Operations Head Chefs who manage our food business on a day to day basis, the company has a strong commitment to food development which affords me the luxury of working with the Development Chefs in design, creativity, costings and implementation of our food offerings.
I live to eat, taste and experience all styles and levels of food, my favourite place to eat is rural Italy, they have such a massive range of local produce that follows the seasons, letting the natural flavours shine through with simple uncomplicated combinations.
I have been married to my darling wife Lisa for 17 years, we have 3 beautiful daughters, Amy, Faye and Lily….all teenagers! There’s Archie, my black lab, Simba the cat and me being the only blokes in the house and they are rubbish in an argument…so I loose…a lot.
Outside we have 6 guinea fowl, 12 chickens, 3 geese and 7 pigs; 5 iron age and 2 saddlebacks. I produce my own air-dried bacon, salami, sausage and air-dried ham. My recent birthday gift of iron aged beauties (thanks Tim and Jez) will now allow me to rear my own animals and hopefully produce some very special products. There is nothing better than eating a meal that you have grown and reared yourself, it defiantly taste better. I think we really are trying to become Tom and Barbra or is it the Clampets?
Group Finance Director
I joined Living Ventures in 2006 and it’s certainly been an eventful few years, new brands have launched, businesses have grown and we have sold a couple along the way - I have the grey hair to prove it!
As the Finance Director I get to keep a grip on all the money that everyone is spending, keep the board up to date with our financial position and provide a drop of business advice to help keep the finances in order and the bank manager happy. I also look after our IT team, making sure that everyone has the tools to do their jobs and we have the right systems in place. Family life and the great outdoors help me to take my mind off profit and loss accounts and budgets. I also help to coach the juniors at our local cricket club. Probably best not to talk about football at the moment. Let’s just say I don’t watch Match of the Day as much as I used to.Continue reading... Email Me
Commercial and People Director
Also known as Monkey Catcher, KT6, and the Angel of Death...In 2001 I graduated with a Psychology degree from Nottingham University and wondered how I could put this to some good use by working with some crazy people. My first graduate job was in a HR department for a big insurance company, but the misconduct there wasn’t interesting enough so I jumped on the LV train in 2003 when we were only 8 units big and have never looked back.
Living Ventures sponsored my CIPD qualification and I trained on the job, so being their first HR recruit, I've been lucky enough to grow and develop my career alongside the company for which I'll always be grateful.
I feel I have helped set up an effective and efficient HR department where honest and realistic advice is delivered to all who work at Living Ventures. The HR team, Jade, Lucy, Siobhan and I essentially ensure that we operate within the realms of employment law. We are in charge of implementing and advising on all HR policies and procedures across the company. My responsibilities include; employee benefits, disciplinary, appeal and grievance casework, issuing contracts and employee relations. I also oversee all training and development administration, recruitment, health and safety, pensions and anything else people related.
I've seen many people come and go over the years, and come back again. They always do. Loads of fun, loads of passion and great inspiring people to work with. I love my job.
At home, I have a beautiful little girl, Ella and my amazing husband Marc Hough (no, I didn’t take his surname) who mean the world to me. I love a trip to the theatre and a glass of wine with my lovely friends and taking in the sights of this truly fascinating world. New York, Rome and Nairobi being my favourite so far.