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Franchisee ‘poaches’ chef from wife to expand oven cleaning business

Franchisee ‘poaches’ chef from wife to expand oven cleaning business

Fortunately, move didn’t cause any “family ructions”, according to Ovenu’s Graham Barnard

Graham Barnard made sure to gain the approval of his better half before taking on a subcontractor to expand his Ovenu oven valeting business in Brentwood, Essex.

At the time, applicant Tobias Titchner was working as a chef for Graham’s wife Gemma at The Artichoke Toby Carvery, also in Brentwood, where she is general manager.

Graham explains: “Fortunately, poaching one of her employees didn’t cause any family ructions!

“I’d had a conversation with Tobias around Christmas. He mentioned he was looking for a change of career and I needed someone of his calibre to help grow my business. However, I did make sure I got Gemma’s approval first.

“Tobias is a dab hand in the kitchen and certainly knows his way around an oven and, as a chef, appreciates the importance of keeping an oven spotless, as well as delivering great customer service.”

Since setting up Ovenu Brentwood in September 2019 after taking redundancy from his previous job as an operations manager for BT Openreach, Graham has seen demand grow, despite the pandemic.

“In the last few months, I found myself having to turn bookings down because there just weren’t enough hours in the day,” he says.

“Now with Tobias on board, I can meet that extra demand and expand the business.

“I’ve always been busy, but as lockdown restrictions have eased, the number of enquiries has grown in line with the roll-out of vaccinations.”

Rik Hellewell, founder and managing director of Ovenu, says: “It’s fantastic to see Graham growing his business, despite the challenges of the past year.

“I only hope his wife has forgiven him for pinching one of her chefs!”

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