M&C Report talks to Paul Goodale, co-founder of PizzaLuxe, the gourmet pizza concept and former director of restaurants at Harrods, about his best investment, his best business decision, and the best piece of advice he’s ever received.

What is the most important action the industry can take to encourage the consumer?  I believe that most consumers want to feel they are doing the “right thing” when they spend their money.  In many instances, restaurants that have lead the way on the key themes of provenance, sustainability and local sourcing.  However, we are not always very good at telling the story in a way that the consumer can readily understand.  A simple, single voluntary code of practice might help – a kind of environmental “Scores on the Doors”.

What single action could Government make that would make a difference? Government should act to curb “no win no fee litigation” and provide a more level playing field for the employer.  I really struggle with the culture of “something for nothing” that can be a by-product of this system.

What is your top priority? My top priority for my businesses is probably the same as everybody in hospitality; namely “how good was the last customer experience?”

What has been your best investment? Having a restaurant (PizzaLuxe) at the front door of the London Olympics was pretty amazing.

What has been your best business decision? Working within the luxury sector (at Harrods) during a deep recession and at such an exciting period of change for the business was fortunate timing.

How much has your business changed to combat the recession? I started my own business in January 2009, at the start of the recession, so to that end, I don’t have a personal reference point beyond it.  A dear departed friend of mine, Robert Breare, encouraged me at the time by saying that “you make a profit in good times, but you can make a fortune in bad times”.  I haven’t made a fortune but I have certainly learnt a lot.

Who is doing something special in the industry? I think that UK hospitality industry is in great shape, the concept innovation is the envy of the world.  There are lots of people doing really great work, if I had to pick though, I would say however that Chris Benians and Andy Bassadone are a class act.  The way they pipeline their projects is fantastic.  Mark Derry is also somebody who is brilliant at giving people what they want – be it his customers, shareholders or staff – time and time again.

Most admired brand? Cote appeared to me to be a pretty much perfect brand execution from inception to exit.  There are so many things I like all the time, one of which at the moment is Be At One, because it seems to me to be an example of how you can make 100% difference by just making everything you do consistently 5% better than the competition.

Who has been the most influential in your career? Des Gunewardena at Conran taught me a great deal, principally that it is just as important to be conscious of how you do business as well as simply what you do.  Michael Ward at Harrods also taught me an awful lot; he has an innate ability to strip complex issues back to their core basics.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received? Keep the customer happy and understand what you would like them to want next.