With the retail and leisure sector evolving at an exponential rate, our high streets and local communities have undergone radical change in recent years with leaders having to ‘think smarter’ than ever before. In this edition of ‘Five minutes with’, Kathryn Gill, a Consultant in our Retail & Leisure Leadership Practice interviews Daniel Broch, Founder of Everyman Cinema & Co-Founder of Bliss.
Having spent his early career in property, Daniel founded the iconic Everyman Cinema concept in 2000. Daniel led the business through a hugely successful eight-year period - in which Everyman scaled considerably and acquired Screen Cinemas - before selling a majority stake and moving on to pastures new. Having created a brand and a concept that has reinvented and reinvigorated the leisure sector, Berwick Partners are thrilled to share some of Daniel’s thinking, how this can be applied to the challenges the sectors face today and his latest vision.
As founder of Everyman Cinema, what was your biggest learning as a leader of a disrupter brand?
The most powerful realisation I ever had, is that you must allow yourself to look at things differently, at every opportunity. The ability to do this wasn’t necessarily innate and therefore not a skill that I had in my repertoire before I began the Everyman journey. I developed it in order to keep going, adapt and make a success of things. It’s very easy to ‘drown in the detail’ and just be tactical. It was vital that I gave myself the headspace to look up and take a step back; it is still the most golden piece of advice I would give.
Another thing I learnt is that the moment you hear ‘The First Lie’, you have to act. By this I mean, when you ask yourself “why do we do things like this?” and the answer becomes “just because” or “that’s how we have always done it” or “it just works”, you need to drop everything and get thinking. Being brave enough to challenge the status quo is what led to the success of Everyman in the early days and beyond.
In fact, it is what led to the very concept of Everyman. I dared to think that visiting the cinema could be about experience and community, rather than just the latest film release. Seeing things differently can flip things on their head for an entire industry; things changed from film-centric to customer-centric.”
As an entrepreneur, you have a number of projects underway through Bliss Investment Partners. What is Bliss and what are your ambitions?
Bliss is the next generation of our business activity. Having stepped down from the active management of Everyman in 2008, I needed a new project to sink my teeth into. I had no desire to be a PLC CEO and therefore had to ask myself, what did I want to do? Myself and my Business Partner, Robert Agsteribbe, founded Bliss Investment Partners to pursue corporate and property investment activities. Ultimately, an umbrella for multiple ventures.
Bliss Hotels is one of those ventures, that we are hugely excited about. In 2016, we acquired full ownership of the former Ramada Plaza Hotel in Southport - now a Bliss Hotel. Our vision began to gain momentum in 2017, when we bought the lease of the entire waterfront resort and adjoining theatre. This allowed us to take a fragmented offering and start to create a cohesive and bespoke leisure experience for a new type of customer – revolving around fashion, art, film and music.
We believe that this is the type of experience that is required in the face of today’s retail & leisure climate. Highstreets are changing because lifestyles are changing, and the Bliss brand caters for this change. Our aim is to place Bliss at the heart of the community and we are committed to making this happen in multiple locations. Bliss hotels is a cultural brand, not a hotel brand.”
What do you look for from your team?
If someone asks what I do, I tell them that it’s like being a football manager – despite not being a football fan! My job is to find the right people, create a formation and provide structure. It should not be about me scoring the goals, but about giving my team the power and tools required to do so themselves. Ultimately, the three key things I value are: energy, ambition and ‘being present’. After all, as Woody Allen said, 80% of success is turning up!
What was your biggest learning from working with venture capitalists when building a brand?
As an entrepreneurial person, building a brand and a business is a creative process that often cannot be quantified at every turn. I had to wise up to the fact that I couldn’t do everything, nor did I need to be good at everything. Surround yourself with the right people, who have complimentary skillsets.
What advice would you give to entrepreneurs in the retail and leisure space, in today’s climate?
It’s a tough market, but you must still challenge the status quo. Sometimes it takes a stupid idea to shake things up. You have to be brave and believe in your vision. I often tell my children, everything is created by somebody. There are no limitations to your own thoughts and imagination. If you have a vision and a viable concept, back it with conviction. Creating a concept or brand of any kind requires the right language, which is often underestimated in business and is a painful process to get right. You must have a vision, be able to tell a story, be brave and keep reiterating to your customer.
And finally, it’s easy to get fixated on what is going wrong; success stories don’t happen in a linear way, and that’s okay. Adapt to your mistakes.