Service is Paramount for restaurant chain HR chief

Snowed-in HR director Lesley Cotton got up at 6am last Monday to ensure her business ran smoothly through the Arctic conditions which brought the much of England to a near standstill.

By 7am, she was warning other managers of the dire weather.

“I was up at 6am on Monday and realised I was not going to get in, but by 7am I was leaving messages for other staff warning of the conditions, not everyone realised how bad it was in the south,” said Cotton, HR director of Paramount Restaurants, which runs the Chez Gérard chain as well as other restaurants.

Living in Otford, Kent, Cotton was confined to the four walls of her home, but like many high-street businesses, had to ensure services remained open. “We have home access to electronic systems and can use the phone. [Snow] does not stop productivity,” she said.

“We opened all of our restaurants, with a skeletal staff, but we had few customers so that was OK. Where there were bookings we contacted them to see if they were coming in – if we couldn’t get in touch we assumed they were and stayed open.”

Meanwhile, supermarket chain Sainsbury’s re-allocated staff who could not get into central London to help more local stores.

A spokesman said: “The recent weather was well forecast during the week before so colleagues were briefed about any potential problems the weather might cause.”

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