Richard Harrison, of No Ordinary Hospitality Management, looks back at a whirlwind nine months which saw the creation of the Midlands-based firm

Richard Harrison, of No Ordinary Hospitality Management, looks back at a whirlwind nine months which saw the creation of the Midlands-based firm – and how it is giving well-loved destinations a welcome commercial boost.

No Ordinary Hospitality Management (NOHM) was conceived nine months ago – and has already delivered a set of triplets which are now making their first successful steps in the world.

The company was officially launched last April and built on a bedrock of solid commercial success and experience, NOHM now uses those attributes to help stimulate venues through innovation, strategy, energy, and drive.

Many might have questioned the wisdom of launching a business in the midst of a global pandemic, but we actually felt the timing could not have been better.

This has been one of the most testing economic times in living memory and the hospitality and leisure sector has been hit the hardest.

That has meant many businesses are sadly closing and all others are taking a long hard look at their operations and assessing how they can move forward in the short, medium and longer term.

We were no different and realised that, at Coombe Abbey Park, we had assets that we felt we could develop to drive more visitors and generate more income.

That had already started with a partnership with Go Ape, and was followed by improvements to our food and beverage offering, making sure we welcomed all-comers to the beauty of the area. We felt those improvements proved that we could offer a similar service to others, adding income generating aspects while remaining true to the tone and nature of their venues

More recently we have introduced a new artisan produce shop, The Abbey Artisan Market and a 50s-inspired dessert diner – The Sundae Club. They have already generated a very healthy trade – despite it not exactly being the height of frozen dessert season!

There are further additions and improvements we want to make, and we believe there is still significant commercial potential, but all done to align with the unique proposition which Coombe offers, and still maintaining what has made it such a well-loved destination

And that is really the key.

Last summer we were selected to manage St Mary’s Guildhall in Coventry city centre, which will re-open after major works later this year.

The building, which dates back to 1352 and saw Mary Queen of Scots held there in 1569, miraculously survived the blitz of 1940 which devastated much of the city centre. It is very much a hidden gem of national significance.

We are looking to establish it as a leading heritage visitor attraction and events venue which can host weddings, business functions, events and more.

Our third major win, was the management and letting of four medieval cottages and two of the city’s original gates which have been wonderfully renovated by the ground-breaking Historic Coventry Trust.

We are really focusing on unique properties and bringing a different view to operating hospitality within a very wide range of properties.

We are very commercial and are looking to work with private owners, but we also understand the needs of local authorities and charities and the sensitivities that they face as guardians of well-loved assets.

The integrity and appeal of those properties lies in their beauty and historic significance – something we appreciate more than most operators because of our management background and experience.

Our pedigree has meant that NOHM’s reputation is spreading quickly. We have agreed a contract – still under wraps – which will see our second Sundae Club created along with other food and beverage offers, while we are talking to other local authorities and private owners both in the region and beyond.

It has been a whirlwind nine months during very testing times – so I can’t wait to see what we can achieve in the next 12 months.