Valley is the location of one of best places to work

Hotelier Janet Simpson at the Lanesborough in London receiving her certificate.
Hotelier Janet Simpson at the Lanesborough in London receiving her certificate.

A Ribble Valley hotel and restaurant has been named as one of the best places to work in Britain – beating off stiff competition from more than 1,000 venues across the UK.

The national contest – run jointly by industry bible The Caterer and HR experts Purple Cubed – rated Gibbon Bridge Hotel and Restaurant in Chipping, fifth in their top 30.

Gibbon Bridge, a four-star hotel owned and run by farmer’s daughter Janet Simpson, was one of only three northern venues to make the top 30 list.

The small independent hotel beat both other northern nominees which were Manchester’s Midland Hotel (ranked 19th) and 25 Langdale Leisure (ranked 25th) in Ambleside, Cumbria.

Judges praised Gibbon Bridge’s management team for its focus on “work-life balance, fair pay and career progression for staff”. They added: “Thought, for instance, has been given to the staff living accommodation, which is located in the beautiful grounds around a picturesque pond in a peaceful part of the estate. All the amenities they need are provided, along with gym facilities and bikes. Three meals a day and laundry facilities are available at a minimal charge – even when staff are on days off.”

To maintain service standards, all 40 staff members are given in-house training and the opportunity to learn new skills through taking NVQs. Also, all employees are paid by the hour, so they are not expected to work hours that they are not paid for.

As the Purple Cubed survey reveals, the result is a loyal and happy team.

All of the original team members are still working for Janet three and a half decades later.

Gibbon Bridge scored a performance rating of 87.5% on being a company that respects work-life balance against a benchmark of 69.94%, and 90.63% against a benchmark of 78.73% on creating an environment where staff work together to produce good results. Some 60% of staff would recommend it as a “best place to work”.

Gibbon Bridge is a family affair. It opened as a hotel in 1982 when Janet and her mother Maggie decided to diversify from farming. They started with six bedrooms and a bar, but as the business grew, so did the hotel. There are now 30 bedrooms, a restaurant and conference and events facilities set in 23 acres.

Janet said: “One of the most important aspects of staffing is ensuring that everyone feels valued at all levels. Our ethos has been to create a community and family feel throughout the team.

“Large or small, independent or international, successful hospitality businesses today all have one thing in common – they never ignore the welfare of their staff.

“It is wonderful that we have been recognised among some of the largest and most prestigious players in the United Kingdom.”

Asked why Janet believes she has retained her core team from the start, she said: “I don’t have many family left and my staff has become family to me.”

Hotelier Janet Simpson at the Lanesborough in London receiving her certificate. (s)