Having watched the past three episodes of Channel 4’s Big Chef, Little Chef I thought I would voice my concern over the abysmal management team in Little Chef lead by Ian Pegler the chief executive. The guy had Heston Blumenthal, one of the most highly decorated chefs in the UK, working for him and he could not direct or manage. He put the phone down on Heston, refused to answer questions point blank and gave no direction or opinion. His only response to the proposals Heston put forward was to repeat the words ‘blue sky thinking’ and ‘out of the box’.
I thought the stereotype chief executive had no place in modern day business but obviously is alive and well hiding up in failing british high street brands. I am sure Woolworths had the same kind of management team and would not be surprised if we see Little Chef follow the same direction of Woolworths later this year. I guarantee that with all the positive publicity Heston’s program would have created that Little Chef, or more importantly Ian, won’t have the balls to put it into action and roll out the changes nationwide.
To be honest it is people like that who give ‘business’ a bad name in Britain and programs such as this will only play on that stereotype. I thought we were on top of creating enterprising businesses within the UK. All this has done is show to me how far we still have to go.
I’m glad that someone else found him as annoying as I did!
Odd that you should have lauded Gerry Robinson on your next blog, following the Little Chef one. Robinson did immense damage to the Little Chef brand when it was under the control of Granada Catering. His ludicrous staff cuts (just TWO people trying to cope with breakfast service for scores of diners) and general cost-cutting (which is about all he knows) buggered up a well-loved brand that had been around since 1958. Pegler has gone now, but why he or anyone else ever dreamt that there was business synergy between the Fat Duck and a chain of budget roadside diners is quite beyond reason. All that Blumenthal could teach Little Chef is how to poison people – an widely-publicised experience that a good number of his customers experienced at the Fat Duck. During the documentaries, he and his acolytes came across as sneering, insensitive know-alls, blissfully unaware of either the feelings of some dedicated, long-serving staff, or the requirements of the mass market. (That’ll be those people who can’t afford £180 – and four hours – for the Fat Duck’s “tasting menu.”)
My father used to work for Grandmet which was the company before Granada so has a first hand knowledge of working for Gerry… Problem is any business suffers as you say from cost cutting and not evolving the business to stay in touch with it’s ever changing clientele. Who would have thought back in 1960 people would end up today paying so much for a cup of ‘proper’ coffee…