M&C Report talks to Andrew Lennox, managing director of the Koh Group, operator of the Koh Thai Tapas (KTT) restaurant chain, about his best investment, his best business decision and the best piece of advice he’s ever received.

What single action could Government make that would make a difference to the industry?
Honestly? It has to be a reduction in VAT. The VAT for our trade is crippling and it is still the single biggest difference the Government could make for the industry as it stands. I’m not fully sure a reduction to 5% is needed - even 15% was better than it is now! I have always thought that a way around this could be in the form of some kind of investment payback. For example, if the Government was to continue with a 20% VAT rate (which at the moment I cannot see them lowering), at least ring fencing 5% of all money paid to be re-claimed by the payee, if and when that company could match fund it for further expansion, would make it easier. This would help keep debt down, create more jobs and in turn help the country to continue its growth. Seems like a no-brainer - you only get the VAT claimed back if you expand.

What is your top priority?
Keeping expansion and growth high and continually improving our systems, services and products. We would also love to take all of our staff to the living wage if we can - it is something we are looking at quite closely at the moment.

What has been your best investment?
It has to be our second site in Bournemouth in 2011. It made the company what it is today. Risky move, but it changed the landscape and moved the company ahead of itself by two years.

What has been your best business decision?
Putting in a head office this year. It’s revolutionising the way we do business - we should have done it years ago.

How much has your business changed to combat the recession?
We call ourselves ‘recession kids’ - we never knew the ‘good-times’ - so to survive we have had to start out as lean machine, which means we are very similar to when we started: lean, tough and determined.

Who has been most influential in your career?
Richard Branson has always inspired me, the way he has created a global brand is quite amazing and he puts staff, like KTT does, at the top of his agenda.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
“To lead is to inspire and to lead by example is very best way to inspire, don’t make your staff do anything you haven’t done yourself - do this and people will follow you wherever you lead.”