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With over 50 years’ experience in the hospitality sector, the Brend family has been a permanent fixture in the West Country with the name becoming synonymous with a reputation for the lavish comfort and exquisite settings of their 11 luxury hotels and restaurants.
Yet this shared passion for developing and managing their collection of stylish hotels to the highest possible standard has meant that the directors have had to look beyond just the material comforts on offer to inspire a company-wide commitment to delivering truly exceptional service at all times.
The family-owned Brend Group, which was recently named 2015 Hotel Group of the Year in the prestigious AA Hospitality Awards, is a keen and enthusiastic supporter of training for all levels of staff as experience has shown that a skilled and competent workforce is better motivated, is less likely to leave and delivers higher levels of customer service. Its hotels include the stunning Carlyon Bay Hotel near St Austell, the Victoria Hotel in Sidmouth and the Royal Duchy Hotel in Falmouth.
Having offered vocational training and formal apprenticeships to staff since 2004, Brend – one of the top 150 employers in the South West – this year launched its own Apprenticeship Academy in a unique partnership with HIT Training, the leading specialist training and apprenticeship provider for the UK’s hospitality industry.
Based at the company’s four-star flagship hotel, the art deco Saunton Sands near Croyde, Devon, the Academy currently has 60 Level 2 and 3 apprentices on programme learning front of house, bar and waiting skills, as well as kitchen administration, housekeeping, concierge and portering.
This year however, the Brend directors decided to increase their training offering and collaborated with HIT to develop a bespoke new Level 4 Higher Apprenticeship. As one of the most demanding hospitality courses available, it provides industry-relevant management training for those seeking to further their career in the sector, and challenges the preconception that apprenticeships are only available to teenagers and young people. This progressive approach is validated by Brend’s current Level 4 cohort of 11 learners, whose ages range from 25 to 50.
“We are a family company that values its employees and encourages them to stay long-term,” says Director Peter Brend Senior. “Apprenticeships are an excellent way of developing and enhancing skill levels; we have always encouraged the ethos of 'growing your own' when it comes to staff and actively develop & promote from within - something that we're very proud of and find hugely beneficial.
“Not only does our own training academy further support this approach, but it enables us to give young people in areas local to our businesses the opportunity to learn a trade and earn accredited qualifications working with our highly skilled team of over 1100 employees,” he added.
“Our aim is to become a beacon of industry excellence in all senses of the term.”
Andrew Mosedale, Group HR Manager at Brend, said the Level 4 Higher Apprenticeships were introduced after directors identified a need to further improve the management skills within the company.
“The greater knowledge and understanding of the industry gained through a management qualification such as this is intrinsically valuable to both the employee and the employer as it means we can equip our junior and middle managers with the necessary skills for success in this highly competitive environment,” explains Andrew. “That in turn leads to greater individual engagement and increased motivation to consistently deliver the very highest standards of customer care, while the Brend Group benefits not least from improved staff retention.
“Encouraging our staff to improve their skills set and supporting them through apprenticeships and training programmes underlines our commitment to help them further develop their own careers,” adds Andrew. “Offering the Level 4 Higher Apprenticeship also gives the Brend Group a point of difference which I’m convinced will help attract new members of staff in the future.”