Make It Worcestershire Case Study: Copper Beech House B&BPublished: Friday, 4th June 2021
The award-winning Copper Beech Houses B&B is a 'must-visit if you're coming to Worcestershire. Find out more about them in our latest case study.
This week we chatted with Kathy Leather, owner of the Copper Beech House B&B and GM of The Royal Porcelain Works, Worcester.
Kathy tells us about their story since taking over the B&B back in 2016, the importance of sourcing local produce, and some of the exciting guests they've had visit the B&B in the past. Have read below.
Tell Us About Your Business
We are Copper Beech House Bed and Breakfast based in Malvern in Worcestershire. Our B&B is situated in beautiful leafy Avenue Road. It’s a grand old Victorian House originally built for a solicitor in 1898 the property provides 6 spacious bedrooms flexible to accommodate a mixture of events and family requirements. The accommodation retains some of the beautiful Victorian features; high ceilings, architrave, Minton flooring and a loggia area outside dining area. Kathy has blended a contemporary feel with modern en-suites and a mixture of large showers and roll top bath. A variety of vintage items to catch your eye but used in a practical way, makes for a more interesting stay. Super king beds aid for a good night’s sleep. The south facing garden facing the Malvern Hills gives the perfect backdrop for a relaxing afternoon with tea and cake or those special celebratory get togethers.
What makes a business unique? Quite often the people behind the business and the vision they hold. For us we wanted to shop local and be a part of the local area. Breakfast is certainly a local affair. Tomatoes from Drews Tomatoes, Little Witley. Eggs from Westonhall Farm, Stoke Prior. Bacon, Sausages and Black Pudding from the Barnards Green Butcher. Milk from The Really Good Dairy at Hollybeds Farm, Earls Croombe. Potatoes for our sauteed potatoes or hash browns and fruit juice from Link Nurseries, Powick. Our cakes come from Batch 22 Bakery in Worcester, run by Clem Serrell (Daughter of Philip Serrell).
We have owned Copper Beech House since October 2016. We had no real experience of working in a B&B but have a raft local contacts and hospitality experience. Kathy worked as Commercial Director of Worcester Warriors for 14 years then 5 years working with The Bank House Hotel in Worcester, and lately the GM of The Royal Porcelain Works in the centre of town. Steve an ex-rugby player with a history playing for Kidderminster, Moseley, Harlequins, Barbarians and Worcester Warriors. Hanging up his boots and concentrating on his love of food and entertaining.
Within three months of this new venture of B&B land, Channel Four contacted us to get involved with a program called Four in a Bed up against stiff competition with owners that had been in the industry for many years. Kathy and Steve, to their surprise, won the show in series 12 which was aired in October 2017. Building a business has been a labour of love plus investment in getting the property to a standard that we both felt proud to open our doors to. We created a customer base that came from far and wide and have met some amazing people.
Tom Hiddleston’s (Tom was Loki in the Marvel Universe Films) parents stayed with us in the summer of 2019, Ian Winter from Midlands today celebrated a birthday in 2020, Rob Andrew, England Fly Half and also Head of England Rugby and Mervyn Ramsey from The Lord’s Taverners Cricket Club, enjoyed supporting us in 2019 and in particular helping a local business. Philip Serrall from Bargain Hunt has been known to pop in for the odd cup of coffee prior to his auctions on a Thursday morning.
Having worked 7 days a week over three years prior to the pandemic, building a business day by day month by month we felt that 2020 was the year we would finally put money back into the bank. Unfortunately, this was not to be the case. The only plus side to this was whilst everyone’s utility bills were going up our utilities went down because of the lack of customers. It made us dramatically look at our out goings and enabled us to plan for perhaps a different future.
Were you and your business able to adapt when restrictions were introduced?
We created more space at the bottom of the garden to enable us to use the garden in a better way to allow us to entertain customers alfresco. Our Gazebo’s and Bell Tents can be erected in the garden to add covered dining or fun for a more unique present or gift away from home for the day. We added a commercial cooker, with a generous grant from the marvellous Worcestershire County Council, to enable us to cater for bigger numbers and encourage local people to support using a B&B in a more flexible way and not necessarily staying over (We are starting to do food take away options with Slow Roast Pork Belly or Beef Short Ribs etc). We want people to know we can be used for that baby shower, wedding anniversary, birthday celebration, that family get together when a more private setting is required. Simple things make a huge difference we more than most recognise this.
How have you collaborated with other local businesses and producers throughout the pandemic?
Our B&B is part of the Malvern B&B Consortium and we have worked closely with restaurants and shops to help make sure that our guests take full advantage of what is here on our doorstep. It is a group that all work together to promote staying in Malvern and getting out into our wonderful County. They have been happy to support us and in return we support them while we promote each other. A part of this teamwork is that we are producing a simple card to give to our guests which includes a list of incentives from the relevant bars, restaurants and shops who are happy for us to send our customers their way.
What is the importance of supporting other local produce, producers and businesses?
The last 12-15 months we have been through has highlighted how much more important it is to look locally for your suppliers. There is a symbiotic relationship with buyers and sellers locally and it is a vital part of the local economy. It keeps money locally and within your Town, Borough or County. In a wider context it helps globally in carbon footprint reduction and reduced air miles. Our local suppliers where here for us during the pandemic (people delivering fruit and veg boxes, online delivery order so no need to go out), so we need to give that back now as things start to open up and keep buying from our local suppliers. Of course, buying local is only good if the product is good and we are blessed in Worcestershire to have some of the finest suppliers in the country, so it really is an easy choice.
Why is it important for residents to support their local produce, producers and businesses as we begin to move out of Covid-19 restrictions?
We will see what happens over the next 12-18 months as we all try to regain a sense of normality. But if we can take lessons from what has happened and remember what we have missed the most then we can come out stronger. For us, it’s the simple things that we missed most and if we support and help each other then we will be ok. Perhaps when ordering a takeaway pizza use a local Restaurant and not a major chain. If you can, use the fruit and veg shop or a farmers shop rather than a big supermarket. We are truly blessed for local butchers providing quality meat. Plenty of local beer, wine, cider and spirits manufactured in the 3 Shires. Perhaps this will take a bit more time to buy your shopping but, is it that human contact that we have missed? I know what I think. It really is worth that extra time.
If you'd like to find out more about the B&B and book your stay, visit the Copper Beech House website.
If you'd like to find out more about the campaign, visit our Make It Worcestershire webpage