1. I Joined McDonald's as a Trainee Manager in November 1982 at the Birmingham restaurant. On 4th January 1984 I was promoted to Store Manager of the Tamworth restaurant. As will be seen from my career history (attached), I have had direct experience of working in 6 different restaurants and have been Store Manager of three.
2. Between 26th January 1987 and 22nd August 1988, I was an Area Supervisor responsible for Telford, Shrewsbury, Stafford and Wolverhampton restaurants.
3. On 22nd August 1988 I was promoted to Senior Supervisor, with responsibility for the Anglia region. One of the 18 restaurants in that region was Colchester High Street, which was managed by Ray Coton. One of my Area Supervisors was Mark Davis, who supervised the High Street restaurant and whom I supervised until his promotion to Senior Supervisor on 4th February 1991. Mark Davis was succeeded as Supervisor of the High Street restaurant by Neil Skehel, for whom I then became responsible.
4. I have read the relevant parts of Ray Coton's evidence. I am appalled and disappointed by his allegations, and in particular by what he said about the docking of crew's hours. I have a good recollection of Ray Coton, whom I considered to be an honest, steady and amiable person, but whose performance as a Manager deteriorated towards the end of his employment with the company.
5. I supervised Mark Davis for nearly 2] years. At no time during that period did I have any reason to suspect that any of the malpractices described by Ray Coton were being carried out at his restaurant. Nor did I have any reason to think that Mark Davis knew of these practices. I found Mark to be an open and honest person who freely and candidly discussed all aspects of his work with me. He was an excellent Supervisor. I recommended him for promotion and was very pleased when he got it. We had an excellent relationship, based on mutual trust and respect, and I believe he would have found it difficult to conceal Ray Coton's use of unacceptable practices from me if he had known about them.
6. I have recently re-read the Performance Reviews I conducted on Mark Davis when he was the Area Supervisor. This has reminded me that there were two continuing (and related) problems at the High Street restaurant:
(1) high turnover and poor crew retention; (2) deficiencies in QSC, particularly quality.
I also notice that many of the recommendations I make in those PR's directly or indirectly entail increased expenditure in different areas "recruitment, training, marketing, investment, etc.). They do not encourage short-term measures to reduce food and labour costs.
7. Ray Coton has in effect said that the reason he resorted to unacceptable methods of controlling his costs was that the targets set him were unrealistic and that he was therefore under so much pressure that this was the only way he could achieve the desired results. I do not accept this, for the reasons given in paragraphs 8-10 below.
8. The process of setting targets begins with a discussion between the restaurant Manager and his Area Supervisor. The purpose is to decide what sort of targets the restaurant is realistically capable of achieving. This depends on a variety of factors, including past performance and local market conditions, with the result that the targets vary from restaurant to restaurant (see, by way of example, the table at the bottom of the second page (p.14 of the bundle) of Tim Taylor's PR of Mark Davis dated 16th November 1988). The Area Supervisor then submits the budgets for his restaurants to the Senior Supervisor for discussion and approval. These budgets then go to Head Office for approval and incorporation into the national budget. Adjustments may be made at either of these stages. The figures then come back down to the Senior Supervisor and are then distributed via the Area Supervisors to the restaurant Managers.
9. The company's philosophy is to optimise profits by maximising sales, rather than by keeping costs to a fixed minimum. This means that the emphasis is always on providing standards of food and service in the restaurants which will increase, or at leant maintain, the level of sales. That obviously cannot be achieved if crew are overworked or under-trained or otherwise unhappy or dissatisfied. This goes for the managers as well. It is therefore necessary to try and ensure that the restaurant has a sufficient number of well-trained and efficient crew and managers at all times. Equally, it is necessary to ensure that sufficient stocks of food are always available and that the equipment is well maintained and in good working order. Although, in the short-term, these requirements usually cost money (directly or indirectly), the long-term benefits in profitability far outweigh the short-term expense.
10. I accept that the Job of restaurant Manager is a pressurised one and that hard work is required to perform well. However, I personally never had any problems meeting the targets set me as a Manager; nor, in my experience, do most managers. It never occurred to me to cheat. If Managers fail to achieve their targets, they are not disciplined or rebuked, though the Supervisor will try and establish the causes. These can include local problems (e.g. the opening of a competitor's restaurant), difficulties in recruitment, mistakes in ordering, poor scheduling, insufficient training of crew or management or inadequate record-keeping. These are Just examples. Occasionally it will be found that the problem goes deeper: for example, as happened in Ray Coton's case, where it becomes apparent that the Manager is simply not up to the Job.
11. After Neil Skehel became Ray Coton's Supervisor in February 1991 he informed me that in his view the standards of management at the High Street restaurant were not as good as they ought to be, and certainly lower than he was willing to accept. He questioned Ray Coton's capability a. a Manager. I recall, for example, that he had found problem. with the stock inventory: when Neil checked it, inconsistencies were identified which, frankly, he felt looked suspicious. We had the feeling that something was going awry at the restaurant but we could not put our finger on it. Neil would regularly consult me as to what he should do about it, especially as he was the newly appointed Supervisor.
12. Neil also told me that it looked as if some crew's hours had been 'fiddled': there were payroll irregularities in which a First Assistant, Sally Spurgeon, seemed to be implicated. Neil was trying to get to the bottom of it and find out precisely who in the management team was involved. Ray Coton was trying to blame Sally Spurgeon but we did not believe that she, as First Assistant, could be the only person involved. I remember that he discussed the issue with me and that, because we thought her role was probably subordinate, Sally Spurgeon was not dismissed but disciplined. This is the only time that docking of hours has come up in all my time in the company: it is obviously an extremely serious matter and if it had been established that Ray Coton was doing it, I have no doubt that he would have been summarily dismissed.
13. Ray Coton says that he had meetings with me and others prior to leaving the company.
14. I do recall one meeting with Ray Coton at one of the Colchester restaurants at which Neil Skehel was present. It was a candid (though perfectly amicable) discussion about Ray Coton's poor performance and how he was failing to cope. We discussed various possible solutions. I suggested that he could look for another job and he told us about the Job at the TSB. I do not recall whether he said that he had actually been offered the Job or merely applied for it. I think it probable that this meeting took place before Ray Coton's resignation, because he did not say at that time that he was leaving.
15. I believe he handed me the letter of resignation at a later stage.
16. Neil Skehel says that he recalls a meeting which I attended with Ray Coton and Mike Guerin in a car at the Leisureworld Just before Ray Coton left. I am afraid I have no memory of that meeting at all, but have no reason to doubt Neil Skehel's recollection of it.
17. At no time did I or Neil Skehel say in my presence that we wanted Ray Coton to stay. My discussions with him were to the effect that he was not coping, with which he agreed; his resignation solved the problem. SIGNED DATED
4 January, 1996|
exhibits: Not applicable/ available