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Richard Harris, Partner at DTM Legal led the panel discussion on Resilience and Growth at the Mezzanine in Duke Street Food and Drink Market, one of GSG Hospitality’s venues in Liverpool.

The panel included Phil Whitehurst, Partner at DTM Legal in the Corporate and Commercial Team, Stephen Gregson, MHA Moore and Smalley, Jeff Cummins, Investment Manager at River Capital, Gary Owens, Director at Metro Bank and Matt Farrell, owner of GSG Hospitality.

There were some key themes that resonated throughout the discussion including a plea from all the panel to work closely with trusted advisers and to ensure that they ‘get involved in the early stages’.

Despite businesses facing numerous challenges over the last few years, Phil Whitehurst believes that there is ‘optimism in the market and that hopefully the worst is over’. He advised companies and business owners to be agile, adapt to change and protect their cash.

Stephen Gregson commented that there were internal and external challenges facing businesses and that there are issues that businesses face that they can ‘control, influence and cope with’. Businesses need to react quickly and seek out opportunities. He saw a parallel with Plato’s theory in the ‘unpredictability of life’. So much can change. ‘Life is like playing dice. Throw a good number’.

Business Owner Matt Farrell, outlined how the hospitality industry has been changing. ‘Some parts are broke. Some parts are running’, and how there are shifts to ‘social meetings’ for coffee and brunch. With this in mind, he has adapted and set up 4 coffee houses and is looking at a 5th site. The rising energy costs has been a big factor and he feels that the UK would benefit from looking at the French, US and German model of tax to stimulate growth.

The panel outlined what they viewed were the key features of a resilient business.

Gary Owens said that businesses need to be specific about what they need the money for. ‘Fore-armed, fore-warned’. A business plan is key to success and a clear understanding of the business and the market.

Jeff Cummins added that businesses should try to set themselves apart from their competitors. He continued that they need to be adaptable, have the right staff and keep them, have realistic objectives and know what they need and how best to fund it.

Stephen Gregson asks business owners, ‘What happens if you are kidnapped?’ ‘How dependent is the business on the owner?’ It is key to minimise dependence on one person and to look after the cash.

Phil Whitehurst commented, ‘People take risks and people’s perception of risk varies. It depends where they want to get to. Make sure you have a complete picture and as much knowledge in your business as a competitors business and that you are aware of the risk.’

Owner of GSG Hospitality Matt Farrell said businesses need to protect their assets and learn from mistakes. Recruitment has been a real challenge and he is hoping that this improves.

The panel looked at the Prospects for 2024 and how we are going to grow.

Building relationships, good planning, utilising knowledge, moving with the times and have a cultural fit was the advice from Gary Owens.

Jeff Cummins reiterated that businesses needed a trusted adviser and advised on key people to contact to find alternative funding. The River Capital manages the Flexible Growth Fund, a £20million loan fund available to support LCR businesses and transformational Capital Expenditure projects, where leverage is encouraged.

Phil was optimistic about the current landscape as there currently looks like there is no recession. Transactions and the markets are healthy, and consumers are optimistic. Stephen added that companies need to know the direction and to be prepared to weather any storms. ‘Be prepared, have the right mindset and be in the best position’. He quoted the philosopher Seneca, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” “The skilful pilot earn their reputation in storms and tempests”.

Matt’s final advice was to say that people are spending. Play on the capital vibe. Be cautious and optimistic.

In summary, to be resilient and grow your business you need to ensure that you have a good team of trusted advisers that work with you from the early stages.  You need to be adaptable and ensure you read the market, your competitors and external challenges that are thrown at you. Protect your cash and recruit and retain your staff and ensure your businesses is not dependent on one person.

For further advice on Resilience and Growth, please contact Richard Harris at

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