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Case Studies

BJA Ltd - client case studies

Norwich Castle…

Project business plan and marketing & communications plan

BJA prepared the Heritage Lottery Fund 10-year project business plan and the marketing & communications plan for the £13.5m re-development project, Norwich Castle: Gateway to Medieval England. BJA prepared and presented the project business plan to the HLF mid-term review and the Norfolk Museums Service Project Board, which was fully endorsed and approved. BJA then completed the final version of the business plan as part of Norfolk Museum’s Service final HLF Round 2 submission.

This included significant involvement and working with the architects and client team looking at the use of space particularly in terms of the commerciality and customer experience including the front entrance, ticketing, retail, catering, venue hire and looking at each phase of the customer journey.

The final report provided a new operating model to deliver commercially, the business plan and to deliver an exceptional customer experience. The business plan met all the HLF project business plan requirements and outcomes. The client went on to secure an award of £9.2m from HLF in October 2018.

“Bryn Jones Associates were appointed as the consultants to produce the Business Plan & Marketing Plan for our HLF Round 2 submission for our major Norwich Castle Gateway to Medieval England project (total project c.£13.5m). My colleagues and I found Bryn and his team very good to work with. They were clearly focused on giving us accurate and realistic projections on income and visitor growth based on a thorough and sound analysis of current operations and opportunities. I was always confident that their work was grounded in reality rather than unrealistic aspiration. I was very impressed by both their approach and final report and would have no hesitation in recommending Bryn and his team.”

Dr Robin Hanley
Assistant Head of Museums (Head of Service Delivery), Norfolk Museums Service

The Black Cultural Archives…

Business planning review

Based in Brixton, the Black Cultural Archives (BCA) is a national institution dedicated to collecting, preserving and celebrating the histories of diverse people of African and Caribbean descent in Britain. The BCA has been running at a significant deficit since opening following a major HLF capital project in 2014. Appointed by the London Borough of Lambeth and the BCA, BJA conducted a business options appraisal, looking at the options in terms of the use of spaces, operating model, costs and income and expenditure projections with each option. This included a comprehensive comparator exercise, market research and internal review. The report:

  • Provided clear recommendations as to the configuration and use of space
  • Identified the real the commercial and funding potential and how this can be achieved, including all the financials and the main income and expenditure assumptions
  • Identified how the service and customer experience can be enhanced further, and changes need to achieve a self-sustaining operation, including a new operating model and a clear operational implementation plan.

“Working with one of the borough’s key heritage and culture organisations, BJA produced a really insightful piece of work in support of our cultural partner. The work has proved to be tremendously useful, guiding improvement to our partners’ operating model. The report Bryn and his team produced was thorough, well evidenced, clear and convincing. We wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Bryn and his team.”

Matthew Blades

Head of Business, Culture & Investment London Borough of Lambeth Council

The Regent Centre, Christchurch…

Options appraisal and feasibility study

BJA conducted an options appraisal and feasibility study for this 485 seat 1930s art deco arts centre, which provides a diverse programme of live theatre, cinema and satellite broadcasts. As a part of the study BJA:

  • Provided a comparator, competitor and related market research report.
  • Developed the strategy as to how the Regent Centre can maximise the commercial potential from what they currently do without capital investment, including a new operating model. This included the financials (income and expenditure) and main assumptions behind them and clear recommendations.
  • Reviewed a wide range of potential capital investment options for the potential use of space and developed a series of recommendations as to how the spaces can be best utilised. This included the financials and the main assumptions behind each of the recommended options. The focus was on the options which: achieve the best possible customer experience and service; enhance the offer; are the most financially sustainable including servicing a loan; and are most likely to attract external investment.

The study was written to provide support to external funding bids.

“We approached Bryn Jones Associates to review our theatre and provide sustainable business options, going forward. Bryn listened to us all, volunteers & staff. His research was thorough, well beyond what I could reasonably have expected. The options presented were credible for our theatre & his implementation guidance, realistic. He had a difficult timescale to meet, which he did, his guidance on the process was clear and nothing was too much trouble. He has provided us with a clear template not only to support strategic decisions we must now make but to help in both funding applications & business planning – a real bonus.”

Alastair Hoare
Chair, Regent Centre Theatre, Christchurch

Birmingham 2022

Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games…

Catering, events and corporate hospitality feasibility study

The Commonwealth Games (CWG) in 2022 will be held in Birmingham. As part of the £75m venue preparations, the Alexander Stadium in the north of the city will be redeveloped to host the opening and closing ceremonies, plus all the athletics events.  Bryn Jones Associates were appointed by Birmingham City Council (BCC) to complete a feasibility report on catering, events and corporate hospitality facilities required in the new stadium during the CWG plus for the operation post CWG.

The project was split into three sections:

  • An in-depth research project was completed to fully analyse the state of the market (growth, static or decline); the strength of the competition in the region (other stadia, exhibition venues etc.); and to establish the best practice models in the sector (award winning).
  • Design layouts and capacities were developed in line with the research findings. In addition, careful consideration was given to the legacy planning for the whole site. An overlay of the official CWG Organising Committee requirements (media rooms, VIP areas, Royal lounge) was also applied to these design proposals.
  • Financial analysis and business planning was completed to establish the best way forwards for the operation. Several models were developed to enable BCC to fully appreciate the options in line with the research, designs and CWG requirements.

On completion of the three stages, a comprehensive report was completed with the key findings clearly laid out to assist BCC, Project Managers and Architects to design the new stadium to be successful both during and post Birmingham 2022.

The Wales Millennium Centre…

Interim Head of Food & Beverage

Bryn Jones Associates were asked by the Wales Millennium Centre to review the commercial and service operations of the Food and Beverage department. This was for an initial three-month period but was extended to an 18-month interim leadership project once the initial review was completed.

The Wales Millennium Centre is one of the largest arts venues in the UK with an extensive programme of in-house and major touring productions. It is also host to a number of national and international arts organisations such as the Welsh National Opera and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales. The F&B department consists of events and hospitality, theatre bars, cafés, a restaurant as well as a full production kitchen.

The F&B service plays a crucial part in the overall visitor experience, however at the time of the start of the project it was clear that the financial performance and service standards were well below those required of a high profile and nationally important venue. The department needed some immediate leadership intervention, budget analysis to improve margins and a review of the staff structure. Action plans were put in place and an immediate refurbishment of front of house facilities was started. BJA completed a staff re-structure and re-training; introduction of KPIs and SLAs; renewed SOPs; implemented a marketing plan with new print, photography, website and social media strategy; and introduced financial systems to monitor budgets.

In addition to the F&B project, BJA was also asked to help improve the front of house operations including contact centre, box office and reception. BJA led projects to complete customer service journey mapping to achieve a ‘World Class Service’.

After 12 months the F&B profit results were exceeding the previous year by 25%; labour turnover had reduced by 30% and Tripadvisor ratings had improved from 3.5 to 4.5. BJA then started the search to find a Head of F&B, which was concluded six months later. Once the induction and handover were completed, BJA left the business and it continues to perform well.

National Museums Scotland

National Museums of Scotland…

Visitor Services Review

National Museums Scotland consists of the National Museum Scotland, the National War Museum, The National Museum of Flight, the National Museum of Rural Life and the National Collections Centre.

National Museums Scotland (NMS) had seen great success following major redevelopment projects with visitor numbers at the National Museum Scotland rising from 600,000 to consistently about 1.6m per annum.  The operating model, including staffing levels and arrangements needed to adapt and change to meet such an increase in demand and usage while being able to operate sustainably within existing resources, be flexible on and cross site, maximise the income generation opportunity and consistently deliver an exceptional customer experience across NMS to all customer groups including evening events.

BJA were appointed to conduct a visitor services review focused on the National Museum Scotland, the National War Museum and looked closely at the relationship with and ways of working with National Museum of Flight, National Museum of Rural Life and the National Collections Centre.

BJA’s approach was comprehensive and inclusive, looking at comparators / best practice within the sector, conducting a significant amount of consultation at all levels from Director level to front of house and operational teams, cross departments and the unions and reviewing a wide range of information.

BJA developed a new visitor services operating model and ways of working for the NMS group and the related financial projections.This included:

  • A new structure from Executive team level to the front of house and visitor services teams with new staffing levels (both within visitor services and cross departmentally) enabling much more effective staff coverage for peak and off-peak times and evening events to deliver an exceptional and more flexible and sustainable service within existing resources.
  • New ways of working and operating within the department at all levels, across sites and with related key departments including cleaning, facilities, maintenance and security.
  • Income and expenditure projections for across the NMS group and the main assumptions behind them
  • An implementation plan and next steps.

Tyne & Wear Archives & museums

Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums…

Customer Experience Project Manager

Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums (TWAM) consists of nine of North East England’s major museums, heritage properties and art galleries and the Tyne & Wear Archive.

TWAM had previously conducted and implemented a major front of house review. Following this, working with staff at all levels and across departmentally including a steering group made up of a cross section of staff from all levels across TWAM, BJA had developed a set of SMART of customer service standards which covered each phase of the customer journey, how TWAM would engage with and bring the customer experience alive and how they would promote income generation and the offer. The standards enabled each member of the team at which ever level to see their role and how they could contribute to achieve TWAM’s customer experience standards.

TWAM had some forthcoming potential capital projects and major exhibition openings, including the ‘Great Exhibition of the North,’ and simultaneously facing the challenge of having to make existing resources go further, while trying not to compromise the service and to generate more income i.e. securing sustainability of in the short and long term. The timing of this project also tied in with the establishment of a new trading arm to the service.

BJA were appointed as the Customer Experience Project Manager for six months working with TWAM’s senior management team, the Museum Managers and the front of house teams focused on the implementation and delivery of the customer experience service standards and front of house income generation.

Working across TWAM with the Senior Management Team, Museum Managers, operations teams, staff and unions BJA developed a SMART action plan which focused on the roles of the teams and the operations managers within them and the changes that could be made so they can focus on the customer experience, front of house sales and improving the ways of working within the teams, across sites and departments. There was a focus on taking greater ownership and monitoring front of house related sales key performance indicator’s (KPI’s), the customer experience and standards.

With some simple physical and signage changes to one of the major museums, coupled with starting to implement changes in the action plan front of house donations increased by 50%.

The Beacon of Light…

Business planning and staff structure

The Beacon of Light, which opened in September 2018, is a £20m sports, events and community hub built by the charity of Sunderland Football Club, ‘the Foundation of Light.’ BJA were employed to review and develop a more realistic and operationally based business plan, which successfully supported the Foundation to secure a £2m bridging loan from the charity bank. With the Foundation moving to the new venue, ‘the Beacon of Light’ in 2018, BJA were then employed to develop a new staff structure for the Charity to deliver the Beacon and to be able to flex the charity more easily and cost effectively to meet the needs of the community.

“BJA developed an excellent realistic and robust business plan for the Foundation of Light, providing a clear focus and strategy, which our team could then use as the basis for the operational planning and set up of £20m Beacon of Light sports, events and community venue at the Stadium of Light in Sunderland. They provided exactly what was needed to persuade our key stakeholders to support the project. They also reviewed the Foundation’s operating model and developed a new effective management and staffing structure serving the needs of the new venue and the Trust, which was nimble, flexible, cost effective, and now the Beacon has opened, will enable the Trust to be in a stronger position to continue to meet the needs of our various audiences and customer groups both at the Beacon and throughout the region.

Bryn and Graham brought a sense of realism, while being customer, operationally and commercially focused and they were always excellent and fun to work with and produced high quality work on time.”

Sir Bob Murray
Former Chairman of Sunderland FC, Chairman, The Foundation of Light (Sunderland FC charity)

The Postal Museum…

Corporate events and hospitality

The Postal Museum, which is run by the Postal Heritage Trust, opened in the summer of 2017 and includes Mail Rail an immersive subterranean rail ride.

Appointed 18 months prior to opening and leading up to the opening, BJA:

  • Reviewed and updated the corporate hospitality and events business plan and developed the events marketing strategy. This included reviewing the competition, comparators, the pricing, positioning, including Mail Rail, the market for the Postal Museum to aim for and the types and size of events.BJA provided the financial projections and assumptions behind these forecasts. This included also looking at the logistics of running events and Mail Rail, including the staffing structure and roles for the Postal Events team that would be sustainable and would be needed to deliver the sales targets and the experience.
  • Working with the client team, architects and designers BJA provided ongoing input into the designs for events, the related facilities and services and provided input to the client as and when needed regarding the planning and licensing implications.
  • Throughout the process BJA advised, supported and guided the client team with the appointment of suppliers, including the appointment of event caterers.
  • BJA also reviewed the film and location hire market and potential of the Postal Museum and provided a strategy for how this could be developed.

Since opening the Postal Museum events and corporate hospitality has built an excellent events and hospitality reputation, has had great success with the target markets identified and has more than achieved the events business plan.

Pitzhanger Manor & Gallery…

Pitzhanger Manor & Art Gallery Trust had been formed to take over responsibility from Ealing Council for the £10m HLF funded re-development of the Manor & Art Gallery. This included the three-year transition period before re-opening.

BJA reviewed the original business plan which had successfully attracted the HLF grant, by:

  • Conducting a comparator and benchmarking exercise and understanding the local market and competition
  • Reviewing the original documentation, financial and supporting information
  • Involving all the key stakeholders

Following the presentation of BJA’s findings to the Board of Trustees, BJA were appointed to prepare a new business plan. BJA provided a new business plan with very clear visitor numbers over the life of the project, and very transparent profit and loss accounts, the main assumptions behind them, what needed to be done to achieve them, cash flow, sensitivity analysis and reassessment of the main risks. The plan was realistic, robust, practical, identified the real commercial potential, how this could best be achieved and provided a sustainable management and operating model for the three-year transition period and five years post opening.

“Bryn Jones and his team helped the Pitzhanger Manor & Gallery Trust develop a robust and credible business plan, sorting the important from the unimportant, and providing us with exactly what we needed to persuade key stake-holders to support the project.  They delivered high quality work to time, in a collaborative and constructive fashion.  We were very grateful.”

Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles
Pitzhanger Manor & Gallery Trust, Ealing, West London

Oxford University Collections…

“Following our visitor services review with the Cambridge University for The Fitzwilliam, we were pleased to get the opportunity to work with another world class brand, collections and artefacts to help identify the commercial potential of their museums, gardens and arboretums”

Bryn Jones
Founding Director

Oxford University Collections (OUC) have some of the most pre-eminent collections and museums in the world including the Ashmolean, Pitt Rivers and Natural History Museum, The History of Science Museum, the University Botanic Gardens and the Harcourt Arboretum. Between them they attract 2m visitors per annum.

BJA conducted a commercial review of the OUC, which also included liaison and co-ordination with the Bodleian Libraries. We benchmarked across the sector looking at commercial performance across a range of indicators. From this information, the operations, management and budget review we were able to identify a significant amount of potential incremental income that could be achieved. Some of which was site specific and some were very easy and quick wins which could make a significant difference.

Other opportunities were based on finding ways to make it possible for the museums and attractions to work collectively more effectively and collaboratively to realise the the potential by being able to pool expertise and share best practice more effectively. BJA also provided a detailed market research report looking at the local market, customer profile, research and current marketing plans and from this developed a new overall marketing strategy for the group.

Just some of our many valued clients…