Greene King’s new culture program helped to position the business well during the pandemic, despite being launched only a week before the first lockdown, chief executive Nick Mackenzie told MCA’s The Conversation.

“On one level it was unfortunate, but on another it has held us in good stead as we have gone through the pandemic and actually what it has enabled us to do is really live those values and behaviours we want to see in our business through lockdown,” he said.

“Developing a good culture, the right culture for the business, in the end feeds through to the customer – that has always been my view and something we’ve worked really hard on,” he explained.

Mackenzie said that, as with other operators, Greene King has actually seen its employee engagement scores go up significantly through the past year, which he puts down to effective communication and the way it has treated its teams.

“I think we are coming out in quite a positive place, and ultimately that absolutely has to feed through to the experience the customer gets. From both re-openings we have seen our customer scores better than they have ever been,” he said.

“The work we are putting into culture and particularly in putting the customer first has started to lead to a real change in the way people think about us as an employer and they way they think about serving customers,” he added. “It’s something we are really going to push hard on over the next 18 months or so.”

Mackenzie said he believes that customers will become more discerning as we go through the next 12-18 months and have high expectations of operators. “The businesses that focus on that will be the ones that do better over the recovery in my view,” he said.