Kylemore Services Group is a commercial (contract) catering, restaurant and hospitality service provider.
Brian was educated in St. Paul’s, Raheny, Clongowes Wood College and Manchester University. Brian started in the family business in the 1970s, starting off as a baker where he spent more than a decade baking from as early as 3am. Brian became CEO of KSG in 1980 and purchased the business from the Hogan family in 1989.
Brian is an avid follower of trends and customer insight, travelling one week a month to the UK & United States looking at leading brands and innovative concepts to inspire his own approach to business. Having guided the company through many changes, he has taken the business from a dairy, to retail bakery shops, to coffee shops, to frozen bakery products, to restaurants and finally to commercial contract catering.
Brian is a founder member of the Dublin Y.P.O. (Young Presidents’ Organisation) chapter. Brian is married to Jane and has three adult children. In his spare time in between managing the company, travelling and spending time with his family, Brian likes to do Bikram yoga, play golf and go skiing.
KSG (Kylemore Services Group) is the fastest growing commercial (contract) catering, restaurant and hospitality service provider in Ireland, passionate about delivering exceptional food and service.
KSG is a 100% Irish owned company. It was founded in 1920 as a dairy in Birr Co. Offaly and has a long standing history in the food business in Ireland. The group now operates restaurant and hospitality services in the retail and commercial catering sectors with a €50 million turnover. Their workforce is comprised of 950+ people operating in over 110 restaurant locations nationwide where they prepare and serve fresh food to approximately 10 million customers annually.
KSG operates the following brand formats:
More with Food is the commercial (contract) catering, restaurant and hospitality operating brand format for ‘at work’ business and industry, colleges, hospitals, travel, government and retail operations. This division provides tailored catering, restaurant and hospitality services to a range of clients across Ireland and serves 7 million customers annually across 80 locations on the island of Ireland.
Two and You is the corporate dining and hospitality operating brand format which caters for clients that have a significant hospitality requirement as well as ‘at work’ employee dining. This division started out as an idea in 2010 between Brian Hogan and Patrick Guilbaud, a Two Star Michelin Restaurateur, who is a partner within the Two and You business.
Kylemore Retail is the retail operating brand format which operates in key high street, shopping centre and retail locations including the brands; Café Kylemore, Quiznos, Coffee Cuisine, and Pure Juice Bars.
As part of their core group ethos KSG places particular emphasis on six key areas within their business (Sourcing, People, Management, Environment, Food and Innovation, Training). These core principles drive everything they do and everything they aim to do.
– ENTREPRENEURIAL INSIGHTS –
What vision prompted you to start-up your business?
The fact that rents were doubling in 2002 / 2003 in shopping centres and high street locations. We took the retail concept and turned it into a commercial contract catering business.
What were the best & worst pieces of advice you received when starting out?
The best piece of advice was always to try and control your own destiny.
The worst piece of advice was “don’t do it, you’ll fail”, in regards to the purchase of the business in 1989.
How did you secure your first investment?
I bought the company with backing and borrowing from Allied Irish Bank in 1989 and had seed capital made from a property transaction.
What was your “back-to-the-wall” moment and how did you overcome it?
When sterling broke the link with the Irish pound, interest went to 40%. Thankfully the high interest rates didn’t last too long!
What moment or deal would you identify as the “game changer” for the company?
Securing the O’Connell street site in August 1987 which was the game changer for the retail coffee shop division. In recent times, winning a major multinational contract in the IT sector for the Two and You division.
What are the biggest challenges you face now?
Maintaining our cost effective restaurant and hospitality model as raw ingredient prices increase. The lack of professional skill in the industry which we are currently tackling with the development our own industry-leading food and service innovation academy in our Head Office in Dublin.
And, finally, the high-street rental market.
What is your greatest business achievement to date?
Company expansion by 66% in the last 3 years into new markets and launching new brands.
- What top tips would you give entrepreneurs starting out today?
- Work harder and smarter than your opponent.
- Be creative and forward thinking.
- Never be afraid of change.
Were there any early signs that you would eventually follow an entrepreneurial path?
Yes I loved trading since I was a young age. I worked during my Easter, Christmas and summer holidays in shops.
Has your “Irish-ness” contributed to your success?
Yes. As a wholly-owned Irish restaurant and hospitality company focusing on supporting our local economy, community, charities and sourcing ingredients from local farmers, growers, fishermen, producers and suppliers have contributed to the success and growth of the company.
When making a new hire, what key characteristics do you look for?
- A solid C.V. with a good track record.
- Presentation at the interview.
- A passion for great food and service.
- Good personality.
- Willing to learn.
- Customer focused.
- Always looking out for the next best idea and open to change.