Investing in people pays off for Kilmarnock cafe

When HR Director Suzie Yosef was hunting for a location for a new branch of the Glasgow based ICafe chain, she looked at several towns, including Stirling, Helensburgh and Irvine, but a visit to Kilmarnock impressed her so much that she settled on King Street in the town.

“What impressed me about Kilmarnock was the people. I looked around and I liked the vibe. People were friendly, they obviously liked going out for coffee and I just felt it would be a good fit for us.

“We’ve been open here for 2 years and I’ve been proved right, we’ve got great staff and loyal customers. We make time to get to know them. It’s helped make the Kilmarnock ICafe our highest performing outlet. The team here are motivated and enthusiastic and they consistently exceed their targets.”

The chain’s focus on people, and in particular the  recruitment, training and development of young people has just bagged them the prestigious Investors in Young People Gold Award – the first coffee house brand in Scotland to achieve the rigorous standard required.

Developed in partnership with the Scottish Government as part of the internationally recognised Investors in People Standard, the IIYP Gold Award for Good Practice testifies to effective youth employment practice, taking into consideration elements such as Developing Young People, Support and Guidance and Continuous Improvement.

ICafe achieved the award following a series of rigorous interviews of management and staff. Their report highlighted “It is clear from our discussions that you are passionate and committed to providing young people with an employment opportunity. It is inspiring and provides a platform to address youth unemployment and develop Scotland’s young workforce. You are truly committed to engaging and developing your Young People and you have a brand you can be proud of.”

Alana McClelland, 19, Assistant Manager, Food and Beverage, is a prime example of ICafe’s commitment to youth employment.

As a 17 year old, while still studying at Loudoun Academy, Alana handed her CV into ICafe when it was newly opened “on the off chance”.  She was taken on, starting as a Barista working 8 to 12 hours a week while still at school. When she completed her highers she was offered a chance to work full time and study for her SVQ Level 3 in Hospitality, with personalised coaching delivered in her workplace. She clearly loves her job: “I love the fact that I’m working and gaining qualifications at the same time. The company takes time to work with us, find what we want to do and support us. I had to work hard for my SVQ level 3 but it was great fitting it round working here and I’m now starting on my Level 4.

“What I really love is seeing new young people coming in, helping to train and develop them. They can see that I started here while I was at school and now I’m Assistant Manager, I’ve got a great job with good prospects and ICafe are encouraging me and others every step of the way.

“The best part about the job is the people, both those I work with and the customers. We’ve built up a great following of regulars, some of whom come all the way from Irvine to

Fiona Nicolson, Kilmarnock Town Centre Manager agrees. “ICafe is an inspirational company.  I’m delighted  to hear that this is their top performing store, but I’m not surprised. The team here take a keen interest and an active part in what’s going on in the town and they work closely with Economic Development both with myself and also my colleagues in our Employability Service.

“When we have the Christmas Lights Switch On, Roon the Toon or Global Market in town, they come out with trays of free sample drinks, such as gingerbread lattes, hot spiced apple or milk shakes and fruit crushes in the summer. Anyone returning the cups to the store gets a 10% discount on their next purchase. It’s typical of their proactive attitude, doing something special for the crowds and encouraging new customers to give their products a try.”

“At the same time, it’s also great to see local young people being employed, gaining confidence and qualifications with ICafe. Their Investors in Young People Award is thoroughly well deserved.”





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