REF2021 17Z_ICS_B: Accelerating the Multi-Unit Leader and Service Chain Growth

  • Christian Edger (Research Participant)
  • Scott Lichtenstein (Research Participant)
  • Alexandros Psychogios (Research Participant)

    Impact: Economic impacts

    Description of impact

    Multi-unit leaders (or area managers), who work in service chains, directly impact organisational growth. The research of the Business School has provided the intellectual backbone through which successive cohorts of area managers have been developed. Dissemination enabled over 800 multi-site managers, in 22 organisations, to use research results, models and frameworks, to enhance their practice, progression and performance. When surveyed, 94% agreed the programme improved their impact and performance, with 97% agreeing that AMUL research was integral to this success. Testimonials from service chain business leaders confirmed multiple qualitative and quantitative impacts on their organisations’ culture, sales and growth.

    Details of Impact
    AMUL research has informed, and was disseminated through, a suite of postgraduate programmes. Since its inception, the programmes have been delivered to over 800 delegates, and 22 UK organisations, including the following.

    Four of the leading pub-restaurant chains in the UK: Stonegate Group (S01); Greene King (S02); Mitchells and Butlers; and, Marstons.

    The UK’s largest hotel chain, Premier Inn.

    Builders’ merchants, including the UK’s largest, St Gobain (S03), and cohorts through the Builders Merchant Federation (S04).

    The UK’s largest land-based leisure gaming company, Rank Plc (S05).

    Other fast growing SMEs (including Oakman Inns S06).

    Impacts from the cohorts which studied prior to 2014 are still being felt. Indicating the commercial sector’s confidence in the significance of this work, and willingness to pay accordingly, the programme generated income of £775,500 to the Business School over the REF period. Moreover, many clients had commissioned successive cohorts 2014-2020, thereby demonstrating the ongoing value that these companies attached to the unique content of the programmes.

    4.1. Managerial Impacts

    There are various AMUL models, which have impacted managerial practice. Most significantly, the conceptual ‘Effective MUL Model’ was formulated while researching at the outset of the programme, and published shortly thereafter (R01). It provides an overarching framework for participants in the programmes to enhance their practice and performance within industry (evidenced in 4.2 below). In a 2020 survey of participants (S07):

    97% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that AMUL’s research was integral to the success of the AMUL programme; and,

    94% of respondents acknowledged that their day-to-day management practice, as middle managers, continued to be informed by the knowledge and understanding gained from this research.

    Respondents also pointed to the support this framework provided in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, benefitting them with the structure it provided. Significantly, 94% of respondents confirmed that their business impact and personal performance had improved as a result of participating in the research-informed AMUL programme (S07). Also, 85% of respondents agreed that attending the programme had enhanced their chances for progression. 57% confirmed that they had been promoted in this REF period, with 93% agreeing that the programme gave them greater levels of aspiration.

    Other frameworks were used to good effect by organisations. For example, the three-fold-feedback framework has been adopted by 11 organisations, and 89% reported they used three-fold feedback often. All respondents stated that managers’ feedback had improved, with 77% reporting feedback had improved very much, or considerably (S08, S09). This attests to the AMUL impacts on management practice.

    4.2. Organisational and Sector Impacts

    Written testimonials from the service chain clients of the MUL Programme — who commissioned a succession of multi-site manager cohorts from 2014-20 — also support its growth impact on their organisations.

    The CEO of Stonegate (S01) stated that, from 2015-2020, the MUL Programme had ‘substantially strengthened the operational middle’ of the organisation (decreasing area manager turnover from 40%, to single figures). It had assisted their £69M to £145M EBITDA growth (growth in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization), which is a 15% compound annual growth rate. This placed Stonegate in a strong position for its subsequent £1.25Bn takeover of the Ei Group, making it the largest pub company in the UK.

    The MD of Greene King stated that the Multi-Unit Programmes supported its ‘vital multi-site cohorts’. This enabled his company to outperform their ‘competitive set by up to 2% in like-for-like sales over the period’, adding that ‘without exception, I saw the individuals grow in both expertise and confidence, thinking and acting more strategically’ (S02). The CEO of St Gobain (S04) stated that the programmes had contributed to their ‘relative industry outperformance’ over the duration, with its Head of People Development and Career Management stating that the courses’ impact extended beyond developing staff, to ‘addressing issues vital for the company’, such as digitalisation (S03). In addition, the Chairman of the BMF stated that the programme ‘accelerated the growth ambitions’ of its member firms (S04).

    The Chairman of Rank stated that the research-informed post-graduate programmes ensured ‘that we continued to outstrip the competition’ (S05). Also, the Operations Director of Oakman Inns maintained that the MUL Programme ‘greatly assisted the organisation’s growth from 8 to 24 units’ over the period 2015-2020. Furthermore, he added: ‘in my view the MUL Programme has been pivotal in increasing the ‘smarts’ of our multi-site leadership in Oakman Inns … It is the only programme in the UK that is focused on improving the capability and performance of multi-site operators — something that has had a very positive effect on the financial and unit growth of Oakman over the past five years’ (S06).

    At a sectoral level, the Founder and MD of Propel, which organises the London Multi-site Leader Masterclasses (attended by hundreds of leisure executives), has attested that the books and industry-related articles produced by AMUL have ‘provided thought leadership at all levels of the (leisure) sector’ and its programmes have had a ‘ripple effect’ as many of the area managers ‘who have graduated from the courses … gravitate to the senior echelons of the UK food and beverage sector’ (S10). This overarching testimonial demonstrates the profound impact from the Academy for MUL on the sector, triangulating the evidence of research impact from participants and senior executives.
    Impact date20132020
    Category of impactEconomic impacts