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Mon 9th Jul 2018 - Sector training awards open for entries, Ei Group hires new customer director
Sector training awards open for entries: The National Innovation in Training Awards (NITAs), run by the British Institute of Innkeepers (BII), is open for entries. The event, organised in partnership with Propel, highlights individuals and businesses in the sector who put their people first. The BII recognises the importance of raising standards and professionalism across the industry, as well as sharing best practice in training and people development. Successful NITAs entrants will be those that provide really great training – be they individuals, training organisations or pub companies. Judges will be looking for examples of those that truly put people at the heart of what they do – investing in their teams, innovating, motivating and striving for training excellence. The award categories for the 2018 competition are: Best Training Programme – Leased & Tenanted Companies under 200 outlets; Best Training Programme – Leased & Tenanted Companies over 200 outlets; Best Managed Training Programme Companies under 50 outlets; Best Managed Training Programme Companies over 50 outlets; Licensee Trainer of the Year Award; Professional Trainer of the Year Award; Best Apprenticeship Training Programme; Best Casual Dining Training Programme; and the Franca Knowles Lifetime Achievement Award. The Franca Knowles Lifetime Achievement Award is an industry recognition award. The winner will be chosen by a panel led by Keith Knowles, chief executive and founder of Beds and Bars. The award will identify and recognise an individual who leads by example and can demonstrate that people are at the core of what they do. The award is in memory of the late Franca Knowles, who herself was a multiple winner of NITA awards and was passionate about people and training. BII chief executive Mike Clist said: “The NITAs are a key platform that not only help us highlight how vital the training and development of staff is to our industry but, crucially, demonstrate hospitality can offer individuals a rewarding and varied career – it’s so much more than just a job.” The NITAs is the ultimate benchmark for training ingenuity in the industry – rewarding individuals and businesses who deliver outstanding mentorship and development for their people.” The awards ceremony will once again take place at the glamorous Café de Paris in London on 20 November. Entrants have until Friday, 31 August to complete their entries and can enter more than one category for consideration. Criteria for each award and entry forms can be found at Each category will have a judging panel consisting of industry experts, which will decide who has best showcased their knowledge, understanding and enthusiasm for their respective category. Finalists will be announced before the end of September and will need to attend the NITA finals judging day in mid-October.

Ei Group hires Helen Cook as customer director: Ei Group, the UK’s largest pub company, has hired Helen Cook as its new customer director, a key role for the business as it looks to enhance its market insight and customer-first approach. She joins the business after a number of years at senior level in the hospitality sector, mostly with restaurant and bar operator Novus, where she held a variety of roles spanning operations, area management, digital and brand development. She replaces Steve de Polo who left the business last month. Cook said: “I am thrilled to be joining Ei Group at such an interesting and exciting time in its strategic journey. I strongly believe the company is pushing the boundaries when it comes to developing innovative solutions that help its publicans grow and run successful businesses. But there is also a big opportunity to do more, particularly in the digital marketing space and customer communication. I’ve spent my career in the hospitality sector and know first-hand the challenges of running a successful site and group of sites. I aim to use that understanding through building a strong customer-focused team across the marketing and customer contact functions that works in partnership with our managers, publicans and wider team.” Paul Harbottle, group commercial director at Ei Group, added: “I am delighted to welcome Helen to the business in this important role. A key part of our strategy is centred around building the level of consumer insight we hold and implementing that to make better decisions to develop our customer offer and support our publicans. I look forward to working closely with her to achieve this.” Cook joins the business on Monday, 16 July.

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