“Brand is important but your focus should be on relationships”
An insightful breakfast with Neil MacLaurin, Chairman of One Event Management was held on the Thames on board The Silver Sturgeon yesterday. The event was proudly sponsored by IndiCater.
Senior hospitality leaders gathered on the luxury flagship of the Silver Surgeon at the Indicater sponsored event. Neil shared his experience and knowledge of the food service, events and luxury industry. From the development of Peter Parfitt Sport in the late 1980s, to the acquisition by Compass and the growth of Levy Restaurants and Keith Prowse, Neil is an influential leader and inspiration for the sector. But how did it all start?
Neil is a very low-profile character who openly shared his story. He was never “a good school boy” – he admitted, adding that his real passion was always cricket, for which he played at a professional level for quite some time.
His natural interest for sport led him to develop a vision around how to connect hospitality and sport. It was back in the 1980s, when Neil met with the Marketing Manager of Twickenham. No one knew what to expect out of that meeting, it was meant to be only an informal chat, but ended up in giving Neil a vision.
During the meeting in Twickenham stadium, Neil made the observation that the security guards had the best view of the pitch from a portacabin on stilts and the rest, as they say, is history.
This for many was the beginning of luxury boxes in stadiums – an opportunity to enhance guest experience for corporates and to connect hospitality and sport to deliver premium service. Peter Parfitt Sport was founded. “Peter and I were granted a 3-year deal from Twickenham stadium, followed by a meeting with a friendly banker that lentus £1 million. It was a simple idea.”
Neil and Mike sold Peter Parfitt Sport to Compass Group in 2003 – who were expanding their portfolio and influence in the leisure sector with the added acquisition of Keith Prowse for £20 million in 2004 – which today boasts a turnover in excess of £50 million.
From 1980s with Peter Parfitt Sport to today as Chariman of One Event Mangement. Neil has worked within the corporate hospitality sector for more than 25 years and has seen first hand the rapid changes in the market over recent years. The latest of his achievements has been the acquisition of Absolute Taste. Today, One Event Management comprises a collection of companies specialising in the events and entertainment busines.