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LAUNCHING IN THE PANDEMIC NAPOLEONS CASINO & RESTAURANT


“Our customers always deserve more attention. Our club managers are available to our customers at all times. I think the difference with Napoleons is that you meet the manager as a matter of course, not exception. Our priority is talking to our customers, making them feel comfortable and welcome. If we don't do this they may as well be playing online.”


venue, but it has the atmosphere of a duskily-lit club. Not a nightclub, but rather a jazz bar. It's evocative of that kind of environment, one that wraps you up and envelopes you in its atmosphere. Te colours are subdued, warm and intimate with a sparkling central cocktail bar drawing visitors to its light.


"If you visit our other clubs you'll certainly recognise themes running through the different locations," explains Mr. Scholarios. "We built upon the traditional design elements from our existing clubs and added a slightly more contemporary twist for Manchester.


“If you look at the new hotels opening in Manchester, such as the Dakota Hotel near Piccadilly, they've taken a similar approach in terms of the design elements and finishes. Te use of deep rich tones in the furnishings and subdued intimate lighting is quite a bit darker than you'll see in many of the casinos in the UK. It's another element that sets this club apart."


SOCIAL 'DISTANCING' CONTACT Describing the most important aspect of the new


club, Mr. Scholarios singles out personal contact as the key differential and, also, one of the trickiest to balance thanks to social distancing. “Our customers always deserve more attention," puts Mr. Scholarios simply. "Our club managers are available to our customers at all times. I think the difference with Napoleons is that you meet the manager as a matter of course, not exception. Our priority is talking to our customers, making them feel comfortable and welcome. If we don't do this they may as well be playing online.”


One of the major issues that Covid has raised is that the daily pattern of customers, their movements and spending habits, have all radically altered. Te ebb and flow of people into city centres has changed; the curfews and social aspects of eating, drinking and enjoying entertainment has been impacted beyond recognition. However, there are positive retail experiences that have adapted to the challenges of Covid, with fitness centres, for example, encouraging people to train before and immediately after work. Building new operational patterns with schedules designed to suit the lifestyle changes of customers is going to be essential if retail businesses want to flourish in the future.


Napoleons Manchester had been designed and staffed to operate as a 24/7 casino, but as the UK government imposed restrictions on pubs, restaurants and entertainment venues between 10pm and 5am just 48 hours before Napoleons Manchester opened, most of the casinos in the UK have moved to a single shift pattern, with staff on the floor from 12pm to 10pm. Te system has proved easy to manage and reduces both costs and staffing numbers. It's not the approach, however, adopted by Napoleons.


“We’re open at 5am through to 10pm,” outlines Mr. Scholarios. "While we understand the decision to switch to a single shift and minimal staffing, we need to remain prepared for a return to whatever eventually passes for ‘normality.’ We are seeking to establish and grow the business and the big challenge in the first six months is to


be sustainable whilst also offering consistently high levels of service."


Mr. Scholarios believes that the out-of-home retail and entertainment sector will survive Covid-19 by having a thorough understanding of the business and the community it serves. It has to be a hands-on approach, and it's the bespoke clubs that have the greatest flexibility and opportunity to offer customers a completely different experience to playing online.


“People want differentiation,” reinforces Mr. Scholarios. “Our customers visit us for social interaction. Tey don't come solely for the game - otherwise they'd play online. Adding something extra and a bit different is fundamental to the future of the out-of-home experience. If a customer makes the effort to


P52 NEWSWIRE / INTERACTIVE / MARKET DATA


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