Global Restaurant Investment Forum

11-13 February 2020 | NH Collection Amsterdam Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky

11-13 February 2020 | NH Collection Amsterdam Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky

GRIF Content Library

Robin Rowland and Nick McCabe share their experience of the F&B industry  

Published 15 January 2018

Robin Rowland will discuss building a global business, the journey and lessons he has learnt.  Nick McCabe will share how the Hakkasan Group are revolutionizing the management model and expanding into international markets.  Ahead of the conference, we asked both Robin and Nick to share their top tips and biggest learning from their time in the industry.

1, What have been the most significant changes you have experienced during your time in the F&B industry?

Robin Rowland - Over the last 35 years we have seen a massive growth (from 20% in the 80s) towards 50% expenditure on food outside the home (should be there by 2025).  UK cuisine quality, variety and accessibility has also improved significantly and private equity support of growth of great concepts & brands has also increased over the years.

Nick McCabe - On a micro level I think our company’s evolution mirrors a macro level change in F&B, which is the convergence of dining and nightlife as bedfellows. In our world we’re seeing a consistent move away from traditional white tablecloth experiences, to hybrid concepts in which customers can have a fine dining experience as well as enjoy a nightlife type of atmosphere. The most financially successful and expandable concepts of recent times are those that marry the two types of hospitality disciplines.

2, What are your top tips to businesses starting out in the industry?

Robin Rowland - Get a mentor & be humble & respectful (what we don’t know we don’t know) Never lose focus on food & service Constantly innovate  Watch cashflow and debt leverage Inspire & lead great teams  

Nick McCabe - To me a great operator should always be able to rely on their gut. Figure out what you love about venues that you frequent, and create your own interpretation of that. There is complexity in our business, but at the core we’re in the good time game, and if you can identify the components of venues that deliver a great experience to you personally, that can then be parlayed into developing a successful concept. You really do have to know the rules before you can break them.

3, Building a global brand, what would you say was your biggest learning curve?

Robin Rowland - Get a local partner & if franchising choose a partner with experience, finance & shared vision & values. 

Be present & stay on top of all markets, means a lot of travel 

Nick McCabe - I’d say there were two key challenges for our company in growing from a London-centric dining brand into an international hospitality group. The first was figuring out how to find commonality in the vastly differing experiences of fine dining and nightlife, as the Hakkasan brand exists in both spheres. Secondly, learning to say no. Growing a brand successfully requires a level of discipline in order to avoid either dilution, or overextension of resources. Being selective about which deals we choose - probably less than 10% of those we see - has been key in maintaining brand equity across the portfolio.