‘They make sure our brand is protected’


sim-trava-logo.pngSim Trava is a Costa Coffee franchise business, started by husband and wife Simon and Tracy Vardy. Founded in 2004 from the desire to offer good quality coffee to customers, Simon discovered that Whitbread, the UK’s largest hotel, restaurant and coffee shop operator was opening up franchise opportunities for the brand Costa Coffee, and in October 2005 they opened their first store in Northwich.

With the initial objective to grow to 10 stores, to date Sim Trava has grown its business to an impressive 32 Costa Coffee stores in the UK, and have also expanded its portfolio, opening two Pita Pit stores, a Canadian fast food restaurant serving fresh and healthy options, and recently a Warrens Bakery in Altrincham, which provides traditional pastries, biscuits and cakes.

‘The relationship we have with Alcumus PSM has been so significant to us as one of our key principles is be the best, and so having this expert resource makes sure we meet that aspiration’.

Jim Smith, Operations Director, Sim Trava


As the business and number of employees rapidly grew, it became apparent in 2009 that there was a need for expert HR support. Based on a recommendation, Simon and Tracy contacted Alcumus PSM and started the discussion on what support they required for their business’s needs. This partnership soon extended to providing health and safety support which has continued to present day.

When asked to reflect on the relationship with Alcumus PSM, Tracy Vardy explains ‘I’ve been working with Alcumus continually for the past 8 years, and as my business has grown, their support has also evolved to fit my business needs. They have provided a whole range of functions over the year’s including creating a company handbook, updating terms and conditions, introducing bespoke store audits, supporting the business through a restructuring period and providing easy and straightforward advice with “people” challenges in the business.’

Our consultants have helped us deal with issues in a consistent way that reflects our culture and values. There is never an issue too big or small to contact Alcumus about, and our consultants are effective, knowledgeable and supportive in helping me drive and grow my business’.


Jim Smith, Operations Director, works closely with Tracy Gundry, who consults them on health and safety (H&S) and food safety to make sure all 35 stores operate at a high standard and are always ready for the Local Authority inspections. Jim advises ‘Tracy understands the ethos of the business and is very much people centric. She is always proactively looking at ways that we can continuously improve our current position.

Tracy has introduced a much stricter check system for our business and has spent a lot of time developing the concept in line with environmental health checks, and we have found that significantly useful in terms of preparing for the real inspections’.

When considering regulatory compliance, it’s not just the cost to a business when things go wrong, it’s the reputational damage that could accompany this. Sim Trava prides itself in having a 5-star rating in each of its 32 Costa Coffee stores, Jim says ‘The key thing for us is making sure we are protected as a brand. That’s probably the biggest thing to everybody’.


As health and safety compliance is under continuous scrutiny with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) performing spot checks on businesses throughout the UK, Jim understands the importance of not only having the appropriate H&S process in place, but also ensuring the staff have the necessary skills to perform and monitor the processes day in and day out.

‘We use the audit process with Alcumus PSM as training because you can do a thorough audit with the consultant, but if the understanding is not there with our staff, then there is a high risk that the on-going management of health and safety is not going to be done at a high enough standard. Tracy has spent significant time with us providing feedback and identifying competency gaps where staff needed further development - that was really useful’.

Health and safety, although time consuming, is necessary to not only protect the business but also protect the wellbeing of staff; there is no room for error. Last year the HSE reported 609,000 non-fatal workplace injuries, and of the 593 cases investigated and prosecuted by the HSE, there was a 93% conviction rate. When speaking of his relationship with Tracy, Jim explains, ‘The honesty I get from Tracy and the frank conversations is important to the business and very valuable, she’s made my staff more competent which in turn, keeps them safe’.

Jim concludes, ‘The relationship we have with Alcumus PSM has been so significant to us as one of our key principles is be the best, and so having this expert resource makes sure we meet that aspiration’.


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