The Venue Group thriving post restrictions

A wedding venue management group hosted more than 75 weddings in the two months following restrictions being lifted – but is now struggling to find staff to support the high demand.

The Venue Group operates and manages two major country wedding venues in the UK and has enjoyed a packed schedule of weddings as it bounces back from the impact of the pandemic.

The group includes Ashton Lodge Country House in Warwickshire and Milling Barn at Bluntwood Hall in Herefordshire – while also operating specialist wedding and event caterer, The Chopping Block.

Milling Barn hosted 58 weddings in the first 60 days and Ashton Lodge Country House held more than 30 weddings.

This is due to a shift in more couples being willing to host mid-week ceremonies and celebrations in order to secure a booking at their dream venue.

It comes following more than a year of restrictions on the size of weddings and the group furloughing the majority of its workforce to make it through the pandemic.

The Venue Group took guidance from accountancy firm Burgis & Bullock – which has offices in Leamington, Nuneaton, Rugby and Stratford-upon-Avon – throughout the pandemic on matters such as grants, loans and the furlough scheme.

Richard Bray, Director at The Venue Group, says that now the biggest challenge is staffing to deal with demand.

“We’ve been extraordinarily busy of late. In some respects we were more fortunate than the wider hospitality industry as we knew we had business in the pipeline,” he said.

“Some couples postponed their weddings four times. When the limit sat at a maximum of 15 and 30 guests many people still didn’t want to ahead with their wedding and miss out on their perfect day.

“Burgis & Bullock have been there supporting us throughout the pandemic, giving us the reassurance and guidance we needed to get through what was a very tough period. We will be continuing to work with them moving forward to guide the business through the recovery period.

“In hospitality it’s difficult to just flick the switch and get running again, it’s very labour intensive to get the engines firing. Furlough was a lifesaver for our operations staff and we have brought them all back now.

“But we rely heavily on temporary staff and staffing is proving a massive challenge now. Across a month we could have 100 employees on our books, which is a huge rise from our normal full-time operations staff.

“We’re expecting to still be very busy over the coming months and that is fuelled by a move to more people booking mid-week weddings too.”

Trevor Day, Head of Client Services at Burgis & Bullock, added: “The hospitality and events sector was negatively impacted more than any other sector by the pandemic, so it’s fantastic to see businesses like The Venue Group bouncing back in this fashion.

“The Venue Group did a great job of looking after its staff during the pandemic and taking advantage of Government support to secure its future. Now attention turns to the future and the business has the foundations to thrive as the sector continues on the road to recovery.”

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