Dating back to 1791, Seaham Hall is an immaculately restored Georgian Country House on the heritage coast near Durham. Situated amidst 37 acres of beautiful landscaped gardens in a striking cliff top location, Seaham Hall has a place in history through its links with Lord Byron. Bryon’s brief marriage to Lady Millbanke, whose parents built the hall, resulted in the birth of Ada Lovelace, who is credited with creating the world’s first computer program.
Seaham Hall was acquired by in 2012 by an independent company and so began a seven-figure investment in its restoration and refurbishment. Guest facilities include the award-winning Serenity Spa, which includes a swimming pool, outdoor hot tubs, fitness suite and aerobics studio, and two excellent restaurants – Byron’s Restaurant and Ozone.
Ross Grieve, now Managing Director of Luxury Lodge Estates Company, joined Seaham Hall as General Manager following the acquisition. The hotel is part of the Pride of Britain Hotels consortium, a collection of 50 leading independently owned hotels. Identifying a need to bring discipline to Seaham Hall’s buying, he contacted Lynx Purchasing, the consortium’s recommended buying partner.
Ross said: “Managing costs without compromising on customer service or quality is an essential part of managing a profitable hospitality business. Lynx Purchasing undertook a complete audit of our buying and were able to quickly identify areas where we could get much better prices, without any comprise on our high standards, by switching suppliers.”
Four years after they began working together, Seaham Hall buys a range of products and services from leading suppliers at prices negotiated by Lynx Purchasing. In the kitchen, this includes dry goods, frozen food and fresh fruit and vegetables. Also covered are non-food products including chemical and disposables, as well as a telecoms contract agreed through Lynx’s specialist supplier.
“As well as the initial savings we achieved by switching to suppliers recommended by Lynx, we’ve benefited from ongoing support. Lynx continually monitors the market and is able to offer insight and advice on pricing trends and anything else which might affect availability. As a result, we’ve gradually expanded the range of products we buy through Lynx’s suppliers.
“We’ve found that the key is to ensure that everyone understands the need to maintain buying discipline, buying the specified products only through the nominated suppliers. That not only ensures that we are able to monitor our costs, but also that there is no compromise on the quality that our guests quite rightly expect.”
As a result of this success, the partnership has expanded. In mid-2016, Ross asked Lynx Purchasing to undertake buying audits at two of these sites, Clowance Estate in Cornwall and Whitbarrow Village in the Lake District.
Ross said: “The bars and restaurants in our resorts are an essential part of the amenities for guests, and from an operator’s point of view it’s just as important to control buying costs as it is in a hotel.”
Based on Lynx Purchasing’s recommendations, the two sites are buying fresh and frozen food, non-food disposables, and beers, wines and spirits from suppliers recommended by Lynx. In addition, a waste management contract has been negotiated through a Lynx supplier, along with one of the essentials of 21st century life – WiFi.
Ross explains: “Fast, reliable WiFi is considered a ‘must’ by guests, but it can be a challenge to install and maintain in the rural and coastal locations of our resorts. The company we are working with supplies our phones and WiFi reliably and at a competitive price.”
He sums up: “At both Seaham Hall and our resorts, Lynx provides us with high level, professional purchasing expertise, which helps ensure we retain our competitiveness while maintaining standards.”