Simone Brinkworth on de­liv­er­ing De Vere’s fresh look

De Vere Ca­nary Wharf boss Simone Brinkworth talks about how to keep a com­pet­i­tive edge

The Wharf - - Canary Wharf - Jon Massey For more in­for­ma­tion about the venue go to ph­com­ de-vere/ca­nary-wharf

Re­fresh­ment is in the air at West­ferry Circus.

With much made of the ex­ten­sive de­vel­op­ment to the east as the tow­ers rise in Ca­nary Wharf’s New Dis­trict, the spot­light has shifted off the clus­ter of 1990s build­ings to the western edge – but that does not mean things have stood still.

Qui­etly wel­com­ing the likes of Lyca Health, the De­part­ment Of Cof­fee And So­cial Af­fairs and Chop’d to its colon­nade, the area is un­der­go­ing some­thing of a re­nais­sance typ­i­fied by the ar­rival of tech suc­cess story Dig­i­tal Shad­ows, which re­cently grad­u­ated from Level39 to space in The Colom­bus Build­ing.

Neigh­bour De Vere Ca­nary Wharf, which op­er­ates ex­ten­sive space at One West­ferry Circus, has not been static ei­ther.

Mind­ful of the need to main­tain a com­pet­i­tive edge, its gen­eral man­ager Simone Brinkworth has presided over some ma­jor changes.

“We used to have a restau­rant on our lower floor,” she said.

“But Bar­clays ap­proached us as they were look­ing for some space so we de­cided to re­fur­bish the area com­pletely and that is now a seven-room train­ing suite pri­mar­ily for them, although we also sell the space on the open mar­ket. We can ac­com­mo­date up to 110 peo­ple as a to­tal in one of the rooms and we can do as lit­tle as a meet­ing for two.

“We re­alised, in ad­di­tion to the meet­ing rooms, we needed some break­out ar­eas and that’s why we went for pods be­cause we wanted to keep the area airy and light rather than cre­at­ing sep­a­rate rooms. Peo­ple love them – there is a larger one that can be used for meetings and there are two that are used for con­fer­ence calls or pri­vate one-to-one ses­sions. There are a range of ap­pli­ca­tions for them.

As a con­se­quence of cre­at­ing the new space, which was com­pleted in De­cem­ber 2017, the restau­rant for clients on the main floor had to be moved up­stairs.

“We have opened out an area that used to be a cou­ple of con­fer­ence rooms,” said Simone, who added that the new lo­ca­tion al­lowed clients to see the hos­pi­tal­ity facilities as they ar­rived. “It’s quite a re­laxed bistro feel – peo­ple come in, sit down and use the area.

“We also have our cof­fee con­cept Burr & Co on both floors, which is the same brand­ing across all of De Vere’s venues in Lon­don.

“Ev­ery­thing is in­cluded in our day del­e­gate rate so peo­ple can just help them­selves to tea and cof­fee through­out the day.

“We have a range of food served for lunch with hot dishes and sal­ads all in­flu­enced by Wendy Martin­son, who is lead nutritionist for the Great Bri­tain row­ing team. We do grab and go food or a nice plated lunch. There are no hid­den ex­tras.”

Simone, who also man­ages De Vere West One Maryle­bone and has spent 18 years with the com­pany, said the firm had to en­sure it was keep­ing up with the facilities en­joyed at blue-chip firms.

“At present, the mar­ket is very com­pet­i­tive and we are very close to our com­peti­tors,” she said.

“Quite a few of the Ca­nary Wharf banks use us and they also use other venues lo­cally too.

“We have to con­vince peo­ple to come to West­ferry Circus, which is around an eight-minute walk from the Ju­bilee line sta­tion and give them a good time so that they come back and re­alise they are get­ting value for money

“We have a smart space con­cept with four other venues in Lon­don. It’s all about hav­ing peo­ple who are AV-savvy, tech-savvy and knowl­edge­able about the con­fer­ence mar­ket. A mod­ern cen­tre like ours needs to com­pete with all the blue-chip com­pa­nies – they have re­ally slick facilities and we have to make sure we are keep­ing up.

“For us, it’s all about com­fort in the con­fer­ence room and nat­u­ral day­light.

“Typ­i­cally our clients come here as they have their own space but they do not have enough – they also want to come out and have some­one man­age the fa­cil­ity, pro­vide lunch and a full ser­vice. We have a wide range of con­fer­ence suites and from rooms for two peo­ple to a meet­ing space for up to 650 peo­ple the­atrestyle.

“The ma­jor­ity of our clients use our space for train­ing Mon­day to Fri­day in Ca­nary Wharf but we also have con­fer­ences, meetings, wor­ship and ex­hi­bi­tions.”

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