MCA talks to Drake & Morgan operations director Dylan Murray about the group’s plans for the Corney & Barrow estate; why Soho House is like no other business and why he’d like to take hospitality to the skies

What’s your main business priority for the coming 12 months?

We’ve grown from nine sites to 20 literally overnight with the exciting acquisition of Corney & Barrow Bars. Getting our teams settled, empowering my senior management team to drive growth and keeping our people motivated is very important to me. Investing in their development whilst providing a solid platform of opportunities for them to grow with the business is a top priority. This will ensure we grow and enhance the brand as we take Drake & Morgan to Edinburgh & Manchester along with the additional new openings in London and of course the conversion of the newly acquired C&B Bars. With regards to our offer development, our main priority is to innovate and create ensuring we provide exceptional customer experiences whilst continuing to offer great value for money.

What is the best marketing campaign you have seen this year?

I distinctly recall Virgin Media’s ‘Be The Fastest’ ad and marketing campaign. It was all about WiFi speed and the importance of being super fast. Clever to use Usain Bolt in those commercials and it all linked nicely to the Olympics.

Where did you have your best meal this year?

It has got to be CEVICHE Old Street, I went on a date night with my fiancée about two months ago and it was exceptional. I have always been a fan of Martin Morales and have followed his progress over the years. The food really sings….it is creative, full of flavour whilst not being over complicated. I am a particular fan of their “Don Ceviche” as well as the “Pulpo a la Brasa” - simply stunning and the ingredients speak for themselves. I love the vibe of CEVICHE and the staff are always extremely pleasant and engaged.

Which business in the sector provides the best experience?

I have to say Soho House, and this is not just because I previously worked for the group; in particular Soho FarmHouse in Oxfordshire which is simply like no other of its kind in the sector. A wonderful culinary experience delivering innovative food & drink in an unbelievable setting. The experience is further enhanced by the extra touches on site which have clearly all been well thought out, an inspirational space and definitely a must visit.

What is your main concern for the sector?

Lack of the right people. I feel that it is extremely competitive across the sector and it is difficult to source skilled and experienced staff. Once you have the calibre of staff in place the next challenge is then keeping staff and improving your staff turnover. With the continued growth of bars & restaurants across the sector, especially in London, it is becoming increasingly harder to manage this. This is why it’s imperative for us to always work on our staff development programs and ensure that we provide strong staff benefits whilst offering competitive rates of pay.

Which other business (any sector) would you most like to run and why?

My heart will always be in hospitality but if I wasn’t working in this sector, I would like to work in an airline business. I am fascinated by this industry and deep down I’m a bit of a “plane geek” ! Combining my love for food, drink and true hospitality and all at 38,000 feet seems like an exciting challenge. I have always been intrigued by flight logistics and the management of many flights across so many destinations whilst ensuring the service and product delivery is of an exceptionally high standard.