Twist London

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Twist London's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Twist London is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett, MP
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles, MP
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
48 | TWIST LONDON
World-class sporting events
demand world-class service.
Ourmanaging director
TimRobinson with world
champion Nico Rosberg
Our staff love a themed party, like this
1950s American private party for one of
our favourite clients, The Pie Man
Established in 2009, Twist London are a hospitality staff
agency and events company with a keen commitment to
fairness, diversity and the highest-quality service for their
clients. Attesting to this is the fact that they are the only living
wage employer in the hospitality staff sector, and have a sector-
unique staff retention rate of 75 per cent. Doing this comes at
a cost, but it’s a cost that Tim Robinson (managing director) is
more than happy to pay. The following piece is his overview of
Twist London and the broader sector.
My business is dedicated to providing the very best possible staff in the hospitality
industry, be they waiters, bartenders or managers. The venues for which we hire
these staff range from private households to large corporations. Very often, too,
we’ll operate bars on behalf of companies and brands who have neither the time
nor the logistical expertise to do so themselves. In addition to this, we provide
consultancy and training. In short, virtually no aspect of the hospitality industry
lies outside of our purview. Among other things, this is why the Tatler Party Guide
referred to us as “the SAS of the staffing world”.
For example, when Mastercard sponsored the World Cup, we ran their team’s
entire hospitality programme, from start to finish and top to bottom. In this specific
instance, the VIPs needed escorting to and from venues. The whole process took
place over a course of months, and was a serious logistical effort. Indeed, even
the bidding process took roughly a year. This also gives a sense of the magnitude
of many (but not all) of the clients we work with, many of whose names we must
keep in confidence. Some which we can name, however, are companies like
FACTS ABOUT
TWIST LONDON
»Managing director:
TimRobinson
»Established in 2009
»Based in London
»Services: Hospitality staff
agency and events company
»No. of employees: 720
»The only living wage employer
in the hospitality staff sector
»Staff retention rate of 75 per
cent
Twist London
49TWIST LONDON |
BEST PRACTICE REPRESENTATIVE 2018
Twist’s service
is simply world
class and
unparalleled in
the paddock
Mercedes-AMG
Petronas, Formula 1
Google, Mercedes-AMG Petronas
and the Artesian Bar at the Langham
(the best bar in the world for the last
fouryears).
Because we operate at this level,
there are high expectations placed
on us – a standard we can meet by
ensuring, among other things, that all
our staff are experienced before the
interview stage, as well as properly and
adequately trained afterward. Entailed
by this is at least nine hours of training
before doing their first shift, which
is highly unusual for agencies. In our
sector, staff will sometimes be trained
for no more than one hour before
being placed into a position. This is yet
another example of how we want to
break the mould.
The means by which we win clients
is typically via word of mouth
and reputation, and not through
aggressive sales tactics. This is
made easier by the fact that, prior
to starting this business, I was a
freelance manager of events. In this
role I did many of the things I do
now, including looking after staff, and
maintaining contacts – which quite
naturally transitioned into a pool of
clients when I started this business.
Having hoped initially for a gentle
upward trajectory, events conspired
in such a way as to send our growth
rocketingupwards.
What truly distinguishes us, however,
is the way we treat our staff.
Hospitality has developed a bad
reputation for the manner in which
its staff are treated and consequently
has a notoriously poor staff retention
rate. We, by contrast, pay our staff a
living wage, which is sorely lacking in
precedent within our sector. We do
this for ethical reasons, but it also has
the positive-sum effect of leaving our
clients happier by providing them with
consistency, reliability and familiarity,
and of simplifying our operations.
Furthermore, because our staff feel
more valued, they’re happier to be at
work and perform their role better.
Part and parcel of this is our
involvement with the Living Wage
Foundation, a proud group of people
and organisations advocating for a
fair wage policy. This brings us into
contact with other companies that
share similar values to us, who in turn
are more willing to use our services as
a result. For this reason, we’re quite
successful with large companies who
care about this issue.
This brings us on to a broader issue we
have with the industry. It’s frustrating
to see how many companies in our
sector neglect the interests of their
staff, sometimes egregiously so. This
ranges from unreasonable travel
demands and poor pay (a particularly
salient problem), to overwork and
infrequent work requests. Sometimes
staff will be sent to a venue where
there are no food facilities within
reach. In addition to this, many staff
will spend long hours in this profession
with no prospect of further training
orprogression.
Partnering with
Marylebone Gin at
Lord’s for Middlesex
County Cricket Club
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
50 | TWIST LONDON
As a managing director, I resolved to
do otherwise. I firmly believed that
there’s another way of doing things
in this industry – a kinder, fairer way.
Indeed, this was the reason I started
the company in the first place – in the
knowledge that the only way to realise
this goal was to do it myself. I’ve been
committed to this, even if it means
we’re a little costlier and less enticing
for clients on a tight budget. We add
value in other areas, and the clients to
which we cater recognise this. Above
all, we provide a much higher quality
service, which naturally flows from
being a company that values the well-
being of its staffhighly.
We’d like to see a political solution
to this. Currently, companies are
effectively given a financial incentive
to pay lower wages. This is because a
competitor can have a bigger margin
than me and still pay lower employer
contributions, as it’s calculated as a
percentage of the employee’s wage,
not the margin. Instead of this,
employers could pay a higher band
of contributions if they’re paying at
the lowest end of the scale (though,
for reasons of equality, this should
only apply for low incomes). Another,
perhaps simpler-to-implement option
could be a tax break: employers who
pay a higher percentage of their rates
to their staff get an incentive to do so.
We also believe Brexit will deliver a
damaging blow to our industry. Many
hardworking and ambitious people
come from the EU to work here, and
us being outside of the EU will hinder
their ability to do so. The day after
Brexit, for instance, we immediately
saw applications fall. Not only will this
deplete our workforce, but it will also
leave our workforce absent of diversity,
which has many sociological benefits,
both to companies and to society at
large. We’d therefore prefer that Brexit
did not occur.
Nevertheless, business is all about
surviving. With our high ethical
standards and commitment to
outstanding service, we believe bright
prospects lie ahead.
Traditionally a male-
dominated area of
hospitality, we work hard
to ensure our bar teams
are as well balanced as
the cocktails we serve
The SAS of
the staffing
world
Tatler
Magazine

The Parliamentary Review Publication, in which this article originally appeared, contained the following foreword from the prime minister.

The Rt Hon Theresa May MP's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By The Rt Hon Theresa May MP

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review. For Her Majesty’s Government, our task in the year ahead is clear: to achieve the best Brexit deal for Britain and to carry on our work to build a more prosperous and united country – one that truly works for everyone. 

The right Brexit deal will not be sufficient on its own to secure a more prosperous future for Britain. We also need to ensure that our economy is ready for what tomorrow will bring. Our Modern Industrial Strategy is our plan to do that. It means Government stepping up to secure the foundations of our productivity: providing an education system that delivers the skills our economy needs, improving school standards and transforming technical education; delivering infrastructure for growth; ensuring people have the homes they need in the places they want to live. It is all about taking action for the long-term that will pay dividends in the future.

But it also goes beyond that. Government, the private sector and academia working together as strategic partners achieve far more than we could separately. That is why we have set an ambitious goal of lifting UK public and private research and development investment to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027. It is why we are developing four Grand Challenges, the big drivers of social and economic change in the world today: harnessing artificial intelligence and the data revolution; leading in changes to the future of mobility; meeting the challenges of our ageing society; and driving ahead the revolution in clean growth. By focusing our efforts on making the most of these areas of enormous potential, we can develop new exports, grow new industries and create more good jobs in every part of our country.

Years of hard work and sacrifice from the British people have got our deficit down by over three quarters. We are building on this success by taking a balanced approach to public spending. We are continuing to deal with our debts, so that our economy can remain strong and we can protect people’s jobs, and at the same time we are investing in vital public services, like our NHS. We have set out plans to increase NHS funding annually by an average by 3.4 percent in real terms: that is £394 million a week more. In return, the NHS will produce a ten-year plan, led by doctors and nurses, to eliminate waste and improve patient care.

I believe that Britain can look to the future with confidence. We are leaving the EU and setting a new course for prosperity as a global trading nation. We have a Modern Industrial Strategy that is strengthening the foundations of our economy and helping us to seize the opportunities of the future. We are investing in the public services we all rely on and helping them to grow and improve. Building on our country’s great strengths – our world-class universities and researchers, our excellent services sector, our cutting edge manufacturers, our vibrant creative industries, our dedicated public servants – we can look towards a new decade that is ripe with possibility. The government I lead is doing all it can to make that brighter future a reality for everyone in our country. 

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review 
The Rt Hon Theresa May MP
Prime Minister