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Award sponsored by HSDC celebrates top local employer’s success

July 18, 2022

Mike Gaston with Lucy Branson, owner of The Coastal Kitchen Family

A local company’s commitment and dedication to its staff has been rewarded with a prestigious award sponsored by HSDC.

At the Portsmouth News’ Business Excellence Awards earlier this year, the College was delighted to sponsor the Employer of the Year category which was won by The Coastal Kitchen Family.

Mike Gaston, Principal and CEO of HSDC, met with Lucy Branson, owner of The Coastal Kitchen Family, earlier this month to congratulate her on the success of the business.

Employer of the Year was a well subscribed category, with 15 entrants for the judges, Aaron Butson from HSDC and Becky Miles from University of Portsmouth, to shortlist.

The strength of the nominations led to a shortlist of four as it was too difficult to reduce it down to three.

Aaron Butson, Assistant Principal at HSDC, said:

“The Coastal Kitchen Family ultimately won as they demonstrated such a huge commitment to their staff. Throughout the pandemic, when the hospitality sector was so badly affected, they stuck to their promise of not making any redundancies.

“They invested time throughout this difficult period with a strong focus on supporting their staff through what they felt was a pending mental health crisis. This continued after they reopened as they could see some staff returned nervously to working at close quarters with the general public.

“They worked tirelessly to remove any stigma surrounding the topic and actively encouraged staff to talk openly about concerns.”

Throughout the judging process Lucy referred to their staff as ‘family’. Her passion for treating her staff with fairness, dignity and support shone through the interview process.

This continued when Mike and Aaron visited The Briny, one of the four venues the business owns in the city, to meet with Lucy.

When asked why she felt she should enter the category she told Mike it was because of the ‘feedback from staff on how much they enjoy working for them’.

In an industry renowned for staff turnover, Lucy told Mike she has numerous staff that have worked for them for more than 10 years.

Aaron added:

“Lucy is a fantastic ambassador for the hospitality sector. She talked with great passion about making the industry aspirational for young people to enter.

“She believes in training her teams to be the best they can be whilst at the same time working hard with them to ensure they have the right work-life balance to protect everyone’s wellbeing.”

HSDC is a leading training provider in the area and one that has a strong reputation in the hospitality sector, so Mike was delighted to hear Lucy’s approach for planning for the future by developing talent from within.

Lucy recognises the sector is facing a recruitment crisis and so her focus is attracting people into hospitality.

HSDC has been supporting the Business Excellence Awards since 2017, as it is important to recognise great achievements and to celebrate them as a community.

The College will continue to work with the Portsmouth News and with the local business community to promote what a fantastic place Portsmouth and the surrounding area is to work and do business in.