Kevin Charity, 52, founded the business in 1996 as a pub company but changed direction in 2007 to focus on restoring historic coaching inns. The Coaching Inn Group now has 15 sites across England offering accommodation, food and drink. It was a Sunday Times Fast Track One to Watch in 2016.
What inspired you to start your business?
My parents. They had run their own small hospitality business and I always admired the fun they had.
What has been your biggest challenge?
Not my biggest, but the challenge I most enjoy, is working at keeping our culture on track with our people as we grow. We have a customer-focused culture and our employees are our first customer.
What has been your best business decision?
Bringing on board a funding partner. It’s so easy to think clearly on a daily basis when the correct amount of working capital is there to help deliver the dream.
What has been your worst business decision?
I purchased a restaurant and pub business because I fell in love with it. I ignored all the signs that it was in the wrong location, all it ever did was make losses and it cost a fortune to offload.
Which business leader would you most like to share a meal with, and why?
James Dyson. He thinks in a different league to the majority of us—I find him inspirational.
What company do you most admire, and why?
The company I most admire is “Change Please”. They work with homeless people, finding them homes, training them to be coffee baristas and then setting them up with their own street-vending coffee business. It’s the simplest format but life changing.