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#002 - Hospitality Meets Liam Wood - The New Openings Expert
Episode 215th April 2020 • Hospitality Meets... with Phil Street • Phil Street
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Hospitality Meets... with Phil Street is a new podcast for the hospitality industry.  Join Phil each week as he hosts a new guest in a light-hearted talk about their journey and story to date.

Today we chat to Mr Personality, Liam Wood.  Head of new openings for the New World Trading Company (https://nwtc.uk.com/)

Liam talks us through how he ended up leading new openings for the company and a lot more besides.

To reach out to Liam to chat through his work at the New World Trading Company then feel free to reach out to him at liamwood@nwtc.uk.com 

This chat was recorded on February 20th 2020, before Covid-19 Lock down procedures were put in place.



This podcast uses the following third-party services for analysis:

Podcorn - https://podcorn.com/privacy
Chartable - https://chartable.com/privacy

Transcripts

Phil Street:

Welcome to hospitality meets with me Phil street where we take a light hearted look into the stories and individuals that make up the wonderful world of hospitality. Today's guest is Liam wood, Mr personality and head of new openings for the New World trading company. Coming up on today's show, Liam breaks the world record for word repetition and a sentence

Liam Wood:

That is not our botanist, any other botanist is our botanist, apart from the Botanist in Bristol

Phil Street:

Phil and Liam really ramp up the energy level.

Phil Street:

So carluccio's is is really great.

Liam Wood:

Honestly, you picked a great job.

Phil Street:

And Liam, starts deflating...

Phil Street:

How long were you there for?

Liam Wood:

four weekssssssssssssssssssssss

Phil Street:

All that and a whole lot more as Liam talks us through His story and journey to date. Once again, a massive shout out to the landmark Hotel in London for giving us a quiet space for the chat. Enjoy.

Phil Street:

Well, hello, Good afternoon, and welcome to the next edition of hospitality meets with me, your host Phil Street. And today's guest is Liam wood, who, in his own words, heads up the new openings and training the team for the New World Trading Company, which lately has been rolling out the botanist brand all over the UK. And we'll come on to that in a bit more detail shortly. When he's not doing

Liam Wood:

Thank you.

Phil Street:

Erm I suppose straight off the bat, let's just get cracking. Tell us who you are what you do beyond what I've just said there

Liam Wood:

Oh, beyond beyond that, it's how much further there is beyond that. So yeah, I work from the New World Trading Company, the award winning the New World Trading Company, I'll say, putting that in there because I'm about to go to an awards event.

Phil Street:

So do you know what you're getting?

Liam Wood:

No, no, it is all it's sort of life. Yeah. Yeah. So it could be multi award winning? Who knows?

Phil Street:

or none at all?

Liam Wood:

or none at all? So yeah, so I look after the all the new openings for the New World trading company. And then I was passed that, the training teams as well. So yeah, we've got multiple brands, the Boston This is our biggest brand that we're rolling out at the moment. And then we've got some other jazzy ones like the florist. That's pretty cool. Sort of restaurant embark on concept.

Phil Street:

Yep. Well, we'll, we'll come on to a bit more about new world trading company towards later in the conversation. But before we get into all that stuff, let's go all the way back to the beginning.

Liam Wood:

All the way.

Phil Street:

How did it start? How did you get into this industry and just talk us through your journey toward it?

Liam Wood:

Okay, it was it was a cold October in 2005. It really was

Phil Street:

you remember it well,

Liam Wood:

I remember it well.

Phil Street:

It wasn't THAT October

Liam Wood:

it was THAT October that, that cold one. No, I am I it was kind of a happy accident that ended up being off Saturday really. I did work experience was that I was really I was really into graphic design at the time. And I really wanted to do graphic design work experience. Okay, but I don't think I worked the system properly because I ended up doing a Pizza Hut.

Phil Street:

Well, yeah, you start somewhere.

Liam Wood:

There's similarities. I'm sure. I think in there. Yes.

Phil Street:

Were you designing pizzas?

Liam Wood:

I think we could say designing pizzas. Yeah, great. Designing cutlery positioning, you know, it's all part of populous. Yeah. So the two weeks of that, and then realised actually quite enjoyed it. And I must have been fairly good eggs. They offered me a job as well. Just a part time. Part time role on the weekends, just cleaning tables. Okay. I will do at this point. 15. Okay, well,

Phil Street:

Okay. And there's still time

Liam Wood:

when you don't really understand where that came from, or why. But did I maybe it was destiny. Maybe I was meant to meant to do it.

Phil Street:

Well, I'm gonna stick my neck out here.

Liam Wood:

Yeah

Phil Street:

You're a bit of a personality guy. Personality works in this industry

Liam Wood:

it just isn't it? Yeah, yeah, I think I think it was finding realising there's a job where you can you can chat to people and sort of run around all day. that appeals to me, right? Yeah. So yes, I worked at a pizza shop for ages, ages and ages sort of saw me through ice ages, like six years through GCSEs in sixth form, and then got to that moment of, what should I be going to university?

Phil Street:

A Gap Year?

Liam Wood:

Yeah. Which I'm still on right. Yes.

Unknown:

If you if you work in your chosen hobby you'll never work a day in your life is

Liam Wood:

something like that. Pretty clunky that was

Phil Street:

Sure. That's absolutely not what it is. Something like that.

Liam Wood:

Yeah, yeah, it was actually tough when deciding not to go to university, because there's a lot of that age 18. And everybody's kind of going off into things like, should I be doing a law degree? Or should I be doing?

Phil Street:

Probably a bit of pressure comes from that as well.

Liam Wood:

Yeah, really feels that the system really kind of feels like you have to go. That's the journey that you have to go if you want to kind of develop. So it's a bit of a battle actually deciding, no, I'm not going to do that. I've, I've already got a job. And I have money. And I quite like this. So

Phil Street:

I can relate, actually to the university. I did go to university. Yeah. But I went because I didn't have a clue what I want my path was and what my journey was, so yeah, and in some ways, I often think that at that age, it's too young to kind of make up your mind.

Liam Wood:

Yeah, exactly.

Phil Street:

You can land on your feet yet and you and find a job like you did that actually takes you somewhere like where you want to go. Yeah, but I think a lot of the time you're forced to make a decision that you're not ready to make.

Liam Wood:

That's it. And all fields are finite as well, like that. Is it that decided that that's kind of without the thought that you can maybe change your mind. That's wrong, you can undo your decisions. Yeah, yeah. So that was that. So I'm stuck at it. And so I kind of did the the management thing. I was always involved in training at Pizza as well. So did the quite early on quite early

Phil Street:

What was the thinking behind that perceived stepped down as in that at the time, why did you think that was a good move for you,

Liam Wood:

in all honesty was removed necessity as well felt because I've been picked up for a long time. And I didn't get on with my area manager, right. 20 year old Liam was, was not a we're not friends with him. And I think it was just kind of a bit of a sort of She's my friend has started working there. So I saw an opportunity to kind of Jonathan do something fresh. Yeah. And it wasn't

Phil Street:

Yeah, well, the rest is history but I'd like you to elaborate.

Liam Wood:

I was gonna say it's ongoing history. Yeah, so carried on. So I've seen that kind of supervisory bits, again, sort of involved in training, sort of got noticed by the HR training director through doing bits and pieces. And then one random, it was October. I'm sure it was October again. It probably was cold. I imagine. It was around that time somebody in my manager asked me if I wanted

Phil Street:

just materialised.

Liam Wood:

Yeah, I've never really given it any thought. So, you know, I'm sure if I thought about it for a second, I would have realised there must be people who are quite young. Yeah, exactly.

Phil Street:

You haven't gone to university. So yes.

Liam Wood:

So yes, I've bundled down to Chichester. And with not much information other than you're going to train train a team of waiters at this opening. So literally day by day, I was making it up as I went along. Right. Anger, right, your training course for an opening? It was chaos? isn't right. But it was an experience for sure

Phil Street:

that they give you autonomy to do that. Yes. And so there's a there's a blank piece of paper. Yeah. How did you go about that? Was the kind of, I suppose Yes. Okay. You've had you had a training experience? Yeah. different brands different? Probably standards. Yeah. expectation. Yeah. How did you go? Did you play while

Liam Wood:

feeling the brand for about a year, a year at that point, or a year and a bit. So I sort of had a good good base understanding. I just attacked it with a logical process because I was like, just basically kind of mapping out what what people needed to know. And when and then applying all of the other bits that I knew I did do it day by day. I sort of had a rough idea of what I wanted to

Phil Street:

Maybe there was nobody else available.

Liam Wood:

Maybe that's it. Maybe nobody else, nobody else realised that that was a job. Yeah, so saw myself travelling all over the UK doing training training, waste of waitresses for for college shows, and learning more and more about this process of opening sites and also developing more skills as a trainer, and eventually took over the openings manager role. So kind of heading up buildings

Phil Street:

That's, you need that door. Right? You need somebody to believe in you that, especially when I suppose you're given a job that maybe in your own mind, you're thinking, hmm, can I do this? Yeah. You need a leader to believe in you. Yeah, I'm essentially giving you the rope to go dangle yourself from Yeah, and that's probably not exactly what I mean by that. But But certainly, yeah, I

Liam Wood:

yeah, yes, that was that was great. And got involved in some other bits of pieces. So general training as well. So I started running all the all the train the trainer courses, so I trained all the trainers for coming chase for a period of time, which is really cool.

Phil Street:

What What skills do you think you need to have as a trainer

Liam Wood:

People skills, you've got to you've got to like people, and and all kinds of different things. You've got to be able to get on a level with people that you maybe wouldn't normally you wouldn't naturally sort of get along with perhaps. And I think that's kind of the key sort of often unspoken skill, you need to be able to understand people to get the message across. and patience,

Phil Street:

Yeah. Yeah. Especially I suppose if you're singing the brand's praises? Yeah, you can't be certain or stood in front of somebody going so Carlucci was is really great. Honestly, you picked a great job, guys.

Liam Wood:

Yeah, yeah. Cuz you need to instil that, that passion and excitement in people. And actually quite an excitable person. I think I've been told,

Phil Street:

I haven't picked that up, But I also guess that if collectors hadn't been exciting to you, and if you hadn't felt a connection with it, that you probably wouldn't have been able to deliver that excitement.

Liam Wood:

Yeah, yeah, for sure

Phil Street:

It's got to come from the heart.

Liam Wood:

Definitely. And, and the other people that are sort of doing it with as well the rest the openings team, kind of all of you being so driven and so passionate about it, you kind of feed off each other. And that kind of belief that you're actually kind of building something really fantastic. Yeah. And looking back, you didn't really realise what was happening at the time didn't realise

Phil Street:

that's quite a lot of responsibility to put on the shoulders of somebody who is perceived to be so young. Yes. Yeah. But I suppose there is a an old saying and in sport. I'd love my sayings don't do. Yeah. And if you're good enough, you're old enough. And it doesn't age shouldn't be a barrier as to why you're, you're the person for that job.

Liam Wood:

Yeah, definitely. No, I agree. I agree. I've always um, kind of ended up in take you have some kind of responsibility for kind of all ages all through school as well. I can't put myself into the responsible sort of positions, probably because I'm a bit of a bossy boots, I reckon. Yeah, control freak, maybe. I'm not sure. Yes, I didn't really even consider that at the time as well.

Phil Street:

No, I should say, yeah. If you're caught up in it, then that's it. Why would you? Yeah. I remember earlier in my career, when I got promoted into a position of deputy food and beverage manager, my old age of 23. Yeah. And I was managing this was on pure cruise ships. And I was managing or second in command of the food and beverage department on a 2000 passenger ship. Yeah. Was 15

Liam Wood:

I mean, the madness.

Phil Street:

But I think if you... at any age, if you've got a little bit of maturity about the work in front of you use the word applying kind of a logical approach to things. Yeah, you can, you can solve a lot of things that present themselves.

Liam Wood:

Yeah, no, definitely. And through doing restaurant openings, has given me the skill to problem solve many, many things. Are there any things that you never thought would go wrong? Yeah. Yeah, that sort of skill set to just crack on with stuff.

Phil Street:

I think it probably because it puts you in a position whereby you're having to think on your feet so frequently. Yeah, that it just becomes like a second nature. Yeah. So that when you are even out of work, you're put into a position whereby you've got to solve something. Yeah, that you just go straight into solving. Like there's not even a thought to consider disaster. Yeah, or

Liam Wood:

That's fine. Where were we cottage cheese? Yes. So So I did that for ages opened, and I how many sites open 50 something maybe there ever a period of time. got the chance to do some international openings as well with with cultures, which is really, really cool. And

Phil Street:

I had no idea at that point in time. Yeah, that, that there was an international flavour. I mean, obviously, there's an international flavour, but coming from Italy, but actually in terms of where you then took that brand. Yeah, I, as far as I was aware of my own little world, it was a UK based company.

Liam Wood:

Yeah. Oh, yeah. It was the worldwide worldwide brand. Yeah, we had a few in the the Middle East and Dubai and stuff like that. I wasn't involved in those ones. And then Turkey. I did five openings around assemble. Wow.

Phil Street:

Yeah. Really amazing. How did you find that makeup? Because that's a like a cultural change, as well as you're trying to take up a brand that's worked in the UK into a brand new secretary.

Liam Wood:

Yeah, yeah, it was, um, yeah, it was, it was pretty mind boggling. To be fair, it was. Again, it was one of those things where it just was happening. It sounded like a really big thing when it's telling people what I was gonna go dues. Go help to open a Carluccios in Istanbuk and I'd be Like, whoa, wow.

Phil Street:

Yeah.

Liam Wood:

And but when you're actually doing it, you just kind of have to crack on crack on day by day.

Phil Street:

And which side of the bridge was it?

Liam Wood:

That is the European side?

Phil Street:

Was it?

Liam Wood:

Yeah, yeah, we did do one on the Asian side, a couple years after that, which would be nice. And the texts were lovely. They there's such a such a nice team of people around us and what they're,

Phil Street:

they're another European country that really gets hospitality. Yeah, it's at their core. Yeah. Same with Greece, and Italy, and France, and all these places that it's just, it's just in the blood. Yeah,

Liam Wood:

yeah, exactly. And we totally felt that. So while we were there, as these different light brown trainers to sort of instil the college chose Brandon in all the team and kind of get things set up properly as it should be. They also treated us as guests and kind of really look after us. So the whole time we were there, which is really, really, really lovely. Yep. Yeah. And definitely an

Phil Street:

in America, it was Yeah, I suppose. Your mind probably tells you that. I'm going to another English speaking country. So this will be straightforward. Yeah. First, and especially having done Istanbul, which is your English is not its first language. Yeah. And yet you pulled that off. So I kind of get where you're coming from on that, that you...

Liam Wood:

I thought it would be kind of easier.

Phil Street:

Yeah. Yeah. But it clearly wasn't?

Liam Wood:

No, no, it wasn't no. Carluccios was in America. That was that was that was a really, really hard.

Phil Street:

Which part of America?

Liam Wood:

Washington DC? Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Again, and experience. It was, that was tough. It was tough. It was really tough.

Phil Street:

What made it tough.?

Liam Wood:

Lots of things. I think we're just not any one thing. I think there was like a bit of a dynamic, difficult dynamic between the the local team and kind of what they wanted to achieve. And that our team kind of what we were trying to provide the brand colleague shows there and sort of the differences they wanted to make. And then a lot of operational issues compared to trying to get

Phil Street:

How long did that site last?

Unknown:

Clung on for about a year and a bit.

Phil Street:

Okay, gave it a crack

Liam Wood:

gave it a real good crack. Yeah.

Phil Street:

Yeah, sure. I suppose that demonstrates that. Like it's difficult to scale up. It's difficult enough to scale up a business in your own country. Yeah. When you're trying to take an impart your brand and your values into a totally different part of the world. Yeah, that's, that can be tricky.

Liam Wood:

Really tricky. really tricky.

Phil Street:

As Proven

Liam Wood:

Yeah. And when you don't have that sort of strength of brand, or understanding or anything like that sort of told jobbing you have nothing to sort of support you and you out there. Yeah. And, and Americans don't necessarily know a lot about Italian food, and we found out so really, yeah.

Phil Street:

That surprises me. Yeah. Kind of the rich heritage of Italian Americans, etc, etc. Interesting. Yeah. And maybe we should have been in New Jersey. That's what it was.

Liam Wood:

Yeah, maybe, maybe.

Phil Street:

If you believe Sopranos, that's where they all are

Liam Wood:

Is it?

Phil Street:

Yeah. Okay, we can move on.

Liam Wood:

Yeah. And so yeah, so it was kind of changed for a very long time. I did management stuff for them as well. So as well as all the exciting stuff, it kind of did the bread and butter in the kind of all the roles in general manager position for a period of time as well. And then it popped off to Byron hamburgers for a few years, which was cool. And that was in a fully training manager

Phil Street:

quite small at this point.

Unknown:

Yeah, it was fifty ish sites with I joined

Phil Street:

five zero?

Liam Wood:

Yeah

Phil Street:

I wouldn't call that small.

Liam Wood:

No?

Phil Street:

No.

Liam Wood:

I mean, Carluccios is 100 and something after, so it's not small. Oh, that's awful. Yeah. So smaller. Yeah. And then kind of ballooned up to 70. Something, right, roughly, and then shrunk back down.

Phil Street:

Right.

Liam Wood:

Yes. That was just around the time I was leaving.

Phil Street:

So it was your fault?

Liam Wood:

It was my fault.

Phil Street:

Right

Liam Wood:

Yeah. I was like, guys, you're not gonna have to maintain this without me? No, not at all. Not at all. No, it's just struggling. I think in the the rush to open lots of sites, we made a few bad site decisions, right. Kind of like locations and stuff like that. Yeah. Not necessarily profitable. So came in kind of bit them, but they're still going strong. Now. I still still don't

Phil Street:

But I think businesses have to sometimes go through that the because, I mean, they they kind of mass expanded in a very, very short space of time. Yeah, to get to that kind of size. Yeah. And it's inevitable that you kind of disconnect a little bit with maybe the purpose and the reason as to why it existed in the first place. And then that catches up with you. At some point, you then

Liam Wood:

Your shifting it again.

Phil Street:

Absolutely. I think the word is evolution.

Liam Wood:

Oh, good word. Yeah

Phil Street:

I think it's key, right? Because the landscape changes around business all the time. Yeah. And people's buying patterns change all the time. And it's difficult, I suppose, especially with a with a brand like Byron, who effectively have picked one thing to do well, yeah. And granted, people are always going to want a good burger. But you what, how do you evolve that to keep people

Liam Wood:

yeah, for sure. And yeah, that's always an issue. I remember that everybody was talking about how do we keep it kind of relevant? How do we keep people excited about a burger? And there's lots of other cool, cool new brands opening up of high heels. Yeah. That was great. Really good. I enjoyed I really enjoyed working there.

Liam Wood:

It was Good. That was only for two years.

Phil Street:

Yep

Phil Street:

So was that like a central training role? You would go out? Yeah, around all sights.

Liam Wood:

Yeah, that's it

Phil Street:

As and when required

Liam Wood:

Yeah, run courses. We run our management development courses, developed a chef version as well. So we had I think we got to 50% internal progression. So like, 50% of our vacancies were filled in house soon. Yeah, it was really, really good. We achieved some really great things as a as a people team, working on despite some huge, huge challenges as well. Right and that being in the

Phil Street:

Really?

Liam Wood:

yeah, guarantee and any any story they'd write about anything that somehow link it back to us. Jamie's is having closed down so Byron is gonna do the same or something.

Phil Street:

Well, I had heard a rumour that Coronavirus was was down to Byron Yeah, very sad. joke, by the way, please. flamers Yes, please. No. suing light hearted tongue in cheek. Yeah.

Liam Wood:

And so yeah, that after five years, the New world trading company that was it? Yeah. Back into a more of an openings role. But back into the sort of operational side of things, which. Yeah, which is the move that I made. But it's really exciting company. And like, really, really cool. Really up and coming and a good chance to create something of this because it's work 20 something 2028

Phil Street:

Yep. So when you say more operationally focused, but you're still training yet? So what does what does that mean?

Liam Wood:

So the operate is back into the because Byron was more of a training role. And now new out is back into the openings role. And so naturally, there's the the operations actually getting things set up and making sure sites actually function and supporting them after that as well. So it's kind of like a cross between an operations manager and a training manager kind of fused into one

Phil Street:

Yeah. Well, we've spoken before about your your organization's Penchant for a job title.

Liam Wood:

Oh, yeah.

Phil Street:

You have got some belters going on there. And even your own title. I love head of openings. Yeah. I mean, there's nobody else. You are the man than the man on the head.

Liam Wood:

That's it. Yeah.

Phil Street:

But you seem to remember you've got you've got other cracking titles going on?

Liam Wood:

Yeah, we've got we've never had engagement as well. We've got a tribe, a tribal chief, we've got a beer guru.

Phil Street:

I feel like I might need to give up my current job for that job.

Liam Wood:

Yeah, yeah. It's a it's a pretty good job, sir. It's a great job. Yeah, we got creative gentleman, creative development specialists. That was job. Okay. Yeah. also kind of making drinks and stuff like that. Right. We love a fun job title. Yeah.

Phil Street:

I mean, it wasn't like a vagabond or something like that.

Liam Wood:

Vanguard's

Phil Street:

Vanguard's That's it

Liam Wood:

Got Vanguards. Got pioneers. There's other roles as well.

Phil Street:

Great. So what have you got your head in at the moment?

Liam Wood:

At the moment, Cardiff, we've just opened, and you can quote me on this. I'm not I don't have any evidence back up. But I've been told it's the second largest pub in the UK.

Phil Street:

Wow. Yeah. That's that sounds sizable.

Liam Wood:

Opened it last week. All right. It's just casual what we do? And to do just drop the mic. Yes. Yeah. It was. Yeah, I mean, it's a big site is big. I just, you know, haven't measured the other pubs in the UK. So I can tell you practice wetherspoons in Ramsgate, which is huge. Okay. But I will do like a beer in Kent. Yeah, that'll be them. And so yes, you've just done that's reopened

Phil Street:

So do you kind of hang around as that support function that if if you can see pinch points, and people are kind of under pressure a little bit, just to kind of bring them back to themselves. And that's it like a Jedi. Remember, you're training

Liam Wood:

Pretty much in that moment, kind of like calm, everything will be fine. And then also as well, if something unthinkable happens, like the ceiling starts pouring with water. Okay, I'm then on hand to deal with that. So the managers can focus on looking after all of our new customers and building new ones. That was an oddly specific was oddly specific. Still dentists really, really did a

Phil Street:

Of course. Yeah. No, yeah, no no no Yeah, but well, problem solving that's it you say again what do you do right?

Liam Wood:

I mean, I will admit there was a moment I was on that Friday night I was kind of pushing around trying to figure out where the water was coming from and and what to do and I just looked at my team was like I don't know what to do here

Phil Street:

that's that's half the battle as well as like understanding that this is beyond my area. Yeah. of knowledge. Yeah,

Liam Wood:

I will just collect the water that's what I'll do. Yeah,

Phil Street:

Yeah. And and then start adding to the water with some tears in the corner.

Liam Wood:

Yeah pretty much

Phil Street:

It must be heartbreaking when you've kind of put your heart and soul into making this thing exists and get off the ground. I don't know we've spoken before about its location is pretty centric to rugby yet is obviously a massive part of, of the culture in in Cardiff, when it comes to drinking beer. Yes. And to just see it, that moment of like, come on. Yeah,

Liam Wood:

yeah, for sure. But what's the other way around as well? So having that moment of the like, the first time you can see it, like Stalin pumping like, you know, kind of all the tables have sat and there's loads of people and everything's working how it should do you have a team of kind of enjoying themselves. That's the that's the best moment. Yeah, yeah. Yeah.

Phil Street:

But then you are you get a moment of adversity. And that's when you drop you probably then see the team really come together as well. Right. Yeah. And get each other's back. Yeah. Under like, okay, so tell us more about your trading company. In terms of funny you got multiple brands? Yes. And I even from our earlier charts are still don't think I've fully got that in my brain. Yeah.

Liam Wood:

So we've got the the botanist which is our that's our that's our bread and butter. That's what they're all like pubs reimagined for the modern modern audience. And the Boston is is kind of your day you can it's very relaxed, it's very casual. You can bring everyone at home comfort says, you know, kind of would you like music every night. And yet to feel good. You can bring your family

Phil Street:

just wile away a few hours. Yeah,

Liam Wood:

Exactly. In a beautiful all of our sites are beautifully kind of immersive and really kind of amazingly designed. Right. And we've got the florist that's a bit aimed at a younger demographic lifestyle conscious millennials is the official tag.

Unknown:

And what does a lifestyle conscious millennial crave?

Liam Wood:

Cocktails, cocktails and a pan Asian inspired menu and shares? Yes, well,

Unknown:

to be honest, I'm Gen X, I think, yeah, I crave pan Asian.

Liam Wood:

Well, you come along to the florists then.

Phil Street:

I'll dress younger.

Liam Wood:

Yeah, yeah. Yeah, exactly. You'll see it's, it's very trendy. It's really cool. And we have more DJs and stuff like that, and rather than the live music, and then we have the houses which are all unique in their own right. And then we kind of event spaces, the sun comes out and they're kind of flooded full of people. And they've all got their own their own backstory, and, and a band

Phil Street:

That's brilliant. Yeah. Yeah. Can't beat a bit of irony.

Liam Wood:

Yeah, exactly. It's fun. So yeah, lots going on. We've got lots of different ones. It's quite exciting. So we've opened a lot of bosses. I think we might get to do more florists this year. Maybe I shouldn't say that publicly. But hopefully, open more of the air.

Phil Street:

And for clarity for those Londonites amongst us. Yes. You're not related to the botanist?

Liam Wood:

Yes. No, we're not. Yeah, so the Boston is in Sloane Square, and I think Richmond maybe somewhere else that is not our botanists. Any other bosses list is our botanist, right. Apart from a botanist in Bristol, I think. Okay.

Phil Street:

Yeah. popular name is uh, yeah. Clearly, this conjure up the things that you might expect. Yeah.

Liam Wood:

Yeah, so no, yeah, that's a that's ours. We've got the trading house our only site in London by bank. As with the florist in Watford if you can count Wtaford as London

Phil Street:

Close enough.

Liam Wood:

Yeah. there you go

Phil Street:

Isn't it inside the M 25. I can never remember.

Liam Wood:

Yes, it is.

Phil Street:

So it is, It's London?

Liam Wood:

There you go? That's it? Yeah.

Phil Street:

I just made that up.

Liam Wood:

I think it's like zone nine.

Phil Street:

Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Something like that. Yeah. Great. Okay. So from your career today, which now I know, spans how many years?

Liam Wood:

15?

Phil Street:

That gives us your age straight away

Liam Wood:

Yeah, it does.

Phil Street:

I apologise for that. In that type in that time, I suppose was there a moment whereby the light bulb came on? and went, yeah, I'm in now, I'm all in.

Liam Wood:

Yeah, it was. Oh, it's either gonna be that sort of the later pizza years, or the early college choses okay. I think actually, I'm gonna say the early college jerseys because It was weird when actually before I don't, dare I say it was almost like a bit of a shame of saying that I worked at Pizza. And yeah, interesting. So um,

Phil Street:

do you think that comes from peers? Do you see what your peers are doing? And maybe they're not we have not gone into the same thing. And yeah, and you think maybe you've highlighted the fact that perhaps you were never destined for an academic life? Hmm.

Liam Wood:

Well, I was quite I was pretty bookie and pretty academic in school. Right. And I think there was that sense that people assumed I would go off and do something really academic. And then I didn't.

Phil Street:

There is time

Liam Wood:

Yes. Well, yeah, maybe. Yeah. So yeah, I think and but then, after I went to Carluccios, I felt a lot more. It was like a brand that I could be a bit more proud of working for. I think I felt more proud of.

Phil Street:

But it is important. Yeah, you have to wake up in the morning and go what I love

Liam Wood:

Yeah, exactly. Yeah. So I think it must be that moment. That was I was like, yeah, this is this is me, this is what I do now. Yeah. And, and sort of realising that you can do as well, that you can, if you're capable and kind of quite skilled at the, the I'm not saying people and skills. Yeah, it feels good. Yeah.

Phil Street:

Yeah. So I always like to kind of remind people that that fundamental of this industry is the first three letters of that word. Fun,

Liam Wood:

Yes.

Phil Street:

And it's certainly my experience. And granted, I don't work in the in the operations anymore, but I am in a luxurious position that I get to, to see a lot of different things and a lot of different people and I think this is still to this day, one of the the most fun industries that exists on the planet

Liam Wood:

Definitely

Phil Street:

Within that, are, can you regale us with any funny stories from your 15 years in the business or for that you can repeat public?

Liam Wood:

Yeah, I was gonna say. And, and there's, there's there's lots lots and lots. I could because there's always so much going on. And there's bound to be hilarious moments. You know, I think certainly doing openings, you get a sense of delirium at a certain point. It's not really much of a specific funny story, but there's always hilarious hilarious things in the openings. You get these

Phil Street:

That's a lovely substance to

Liam Wood:

Yeah, go everywhere as well. Absolutely. Everywhere. And it's fine on the ceilings. At some point. I always find sauce on ceilings.

Phil Street:

Yeah, yeah. and you wonder how Yeah, as somebody just been has been spending their afternoon trying to figure out how to make that happen.

Liam Wood:

Yeah. Like how does it always get up there? If you look up in restaurants, right, wherever you go to you'll see some sauce on there. Yeah, I think how did that get up there?

Phil Street:

A sauce explosion.

Liam Wood:

We had it. We had an egg explode. That was quite funny. Okay, it was a poached egg. It wasn't so funny for the poor lady that exploded on top.

Phil Street:

I can imagine. Yeah, I think yes, yes. Or Yes. Okay.

Liam Wood:

Yeah, that hit the ceiling. I'm not quite sure what happened. just popped and fired up.

Phil Street:

Yeah, yeah. Any moments of abject embarrassment that you can remember, personally, apart from dropping sour cream?

Liam Wood:

Yeah, dropping sour cream I mean, dropping trays, especially because then in the head of openings, people expect you to know what you're doing. But I am I'm very human. And I'm not very well practised for carrying things. We like to put stairs like lots of stairs and a lot of our sites. And I think Warrington is the most spectacular like, drop. And it's almost like every single thing

Phil Street:

Yeah. Well, you know, just look to the world of elite sports. The the best coaches don't necessarily make the best athletes. Yeah, just remember that in training.

Liam Wood:

I'm just gotta put that out there.

Phil Street:

You know your mantra. Yeah. Going forward. Yeah.

Liam Wood:

I just felt I've done I don't mind embarrassing myself too much. do plenty of stupid things fall over? Yeah, yeah. I think I might be a bit clumsy. Always make sure to laugh first if I fall over though. Yeah, yeah,

Phil Street:

yep. Yeah, that's just a given. And then I suppose flipside of all of that the challenges, I mean, beyond new openings, which obviously come with their own challenges, yes. Falling and yes. Anything that can Trump that. I mean, that's pretty serious challenge actually to deal with.

Liam Wood:

Yeah, we had. And that was a big challenge, some time. But a scary moment of the keypad, scary moments of people capacities, would you opening parties at this terrifying moment in Bath, where I found out we're touch over capacity in the building. I don't know how, because we have four instances. So it was really hard to manage. Yeah. And then I've found this kind of pinch point of

Phil Street:

How did you deal with that?

Liam Wood:

I stopped letting people in for sure. And I started going to start Yeah, exactly. And start moving people through. There's a few things we've kind of serving food and drinks at some point. And that was making people bottleneck so just moved, moved where those were happening. Spread people out. Action Stations.

Phil Street:

Yeah. Well, I mean, what else can you do? Right?

Liam Wood:

Yeah, exactly. That's it? Yeah.

Phil Street:

Okay. What does the year ahead? Hold for Liam wood. Especially now that Panto's out the way

Liam Wood:

I was gonna say, yeah, we've done a Panto now, that's done. And we've got lots of things. I'm gonna take some time off after after Cardiff settles. Cos we've just done a few back to back and we've done panto, and we've done Christmas as well. All that's happened in the last three months. It's been really, really busy for me. Yep. So I'm gonna, I'm gonna do nothing.

Phil Street:

For a day? For a week?

Liam Wood:

See what I get. And then we've got a bunch of openings around the country, various, various towns all spread out quite a lot. And I'm going to Glastonbury, and I'm very much looking forward to that.

Phil Street:

Excellent. Yes. But when did they announce the lineup? Or have they done? They started?

Liam Wood:

Yes. The full lineup. There's a few few people Taylor Swift on there, right? Yeah. Great. And that's what I can think of right now.

Phil Street:

I see. She's got a documentary on Netflix. Apparently. It's very good. It sounds good.

Liam Wood:

Yes. And even if you're not a swifty,

Phil Street:

yeah, no, absolutely. But she's one of the greatest philosophers in the history of the world. I think that line, the haters are gonna hate, I mean, that sums it up

Liam Wood:

Powerful

Phil Street:

Yeah. I've totally thrown my train of thought over ....

Liam Wood:

by using Taylor Swift.... There's a saying that Taylor Swift said once.

Phil Street:

Yes, it is that we're going to folklore that one. Okay, so youmentioned you've got more openings? Yes. How many are you planning this year?

Liam Wood:

Four more

Phil Street:

Wow. That is that's that's growth,

Liam Wood:

mmm, Yeah.

Phil Street:

Yeah, it is. Yeah. Can you tell us locations or are they cloak and dagger?

Liam Wood:

I can tell you Preston. And Leicester. Yes. Yep. Great. That's it

Phil Street:

Exciting times

Liam Wood:

Very exciting times. Yeah. Should we learn some cool places when we are Carluccios we were doing 12 a year?

Phil Street:

Really?

Liam Wood:

Yeah. Yeah. Which, I mean, it was a lot more streamlined to kind of flow in what we're doing by that point, because it opens so many. But yeah, I suppose that's quite a lot of great, isn't it? Yeah.

Phil Street:

No? Good. Yeah, absolutely. Well, it's good people still want to drink and be merry, right? Yeah, we did have a food element as well.

Liam Wood:

Yeah, it's um, depending on which brand the houses are a bit more drinky. The florist? Split 60% drinks 4% food botanists kind of 50-50. Depends where you are.

Phil Street:

Right. And where where do you look for your inspiration? these days? For what? For life for life? Yeah. Or Is somebody in the industry that you turn to to check I suppose keep you motivated. I mean, you're quite a motivated guy anyway. And you're clearly doing something that you you were born to do. Yeah, that helps. Yeah. But you're Do you have mentors you look to other people

Liam Wood:

Yeah, but no one person we that sort of kind of try and find that influence from everyone. If If I can I think like no, no one person has all the answers. And I think it's really important to level yourself. It's almost like holding yourself accountable to people. Certainly the team that I work with, I kind of make sure that I kind of get all of their opinions and kind of we all kind of

Phil Street:

Yeah, from one overthinking to another. Yeah. Relate? Yeah, person.

Liam Wood:

Yeah. Sometimes you have to say something out loud. Like I'm thinking this thing and I just have to say it to you, and then you're gonna look at me in a certain way. And I'm gonna realise Lee.

Phil Street:

Yeah, exactly. They're

Liam Wood:

That's good. But then that also helps me to stay motivated, but I feel kind of accountable. Like, I need to be motivated to keep those guys going to then keep everybody else going as well. Yep. And so it's kind of becomes like a self fulfilling thing. Like gestures, hand gestures go on it.

Phil Street:

Yeah, well, thankfully, we're on radio in an inverted commas. Radio on demand. Yes, that's what we are. Okay, so if you were starting over again, yes. Knowing what you know, know, what piece of advice would you give to yourself? At the very beginning of your career?

Liam Wood:

Keep having fun. It is meant to be fun serving food, not saving lives. Yeah. And, and remember that nobody else knows what they're doing really. including you. So it's okay. If you don't know what you're doing, because most people don't know what they do. Oh,

Phil Street:

yeah, I like that. But then you just apply a logical approach exactly dealing with the thing that you don't know and, and just get on with it. Solutions present themselves. Exactly. collaborations. Another thing for me, just come from an event today that's been talking a lot about collaboration. And you're you if you're an island in this in this industry, then you won't last

Liam Wood:

Yeah, definitely. Definitely. Part of that, is that that journey of figuring these things out is actually the important bit.

Phil Street:

Yeah, yeah. And then I suppose leading on from that, if what advice would you give to somebody who was looking to start on the career path? in hospitality? No.

Liam Wood:

Do it and, and be proud of it? Like, enjoy what you do? Because it's meant to be fun. Yeah. Yeah. It's meant to be fun. And, and it is. Yeah, it is. Yeah. It really is. And, of course, it's hard bits. But

Phil Street:

yeah, but there is an every in every job. Yeah. Yeah. This is the thing I love about this industry. Is that the sheer diversity of opportunity. Yeah, you I think the perception sometimes can be that it's you come in and you you're either a waiter or you're a chef and that's kind of it. But the reality is, is that you can be an engineer, you can be a marketeer, you can be a trainer.

Liam Wood:

Yeah, for sure. For sure.

Phil Street:

And there's a great message for you kids. #

Liam Wood:

That's it. That's the tagline.

Phil Street:

Great, So if people want to get a hold of you and and pick your brains, yeah. How would they go about doing that?

Liam Wood:

Shout really loud outside, I hear smoke signals that you can get me. LinkedIn is probably the best one. I'm Liam wood on LinkedIn

Phil Street:

not leeham?

Liam Wood:

No, not only ham Li ham word on Facebook if you okay, if you're that way inclined. Or you can email me liamwood@nbtc.uk.com.

Phil Street:

Very good.

Liam Wood:

Yes.

Phil Street:

Great stuff. All right. Well, thank you very much for joining us today. Liam.

Liam Wood:

Pleasure. Thank you.

Phil Street:

It's been a pleasure to chat. And we'll see you around.

Liam Wood:

You will, indeed.

Phil Street:

So there we have the wonderful shenanigans of Liam wood, just a top top guy, and a huge thank you to him for giving up his time. Don't forget, we'll be launching a new episode every Wednesday, but in the meantime, we'd love for you to subscribe to the show, and give us a like and a share on any of the usual social channels. We'll see you next time.