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Still Smiling After 20 Years

Posted: 12th July 2016

On 29th April 1996, Norman Springford opened his first Apex Hotel in Edinburgh’s Grassmarket. The 127 rooms each sold at a fixed rate of £39.95.

Norman began seeking staff with the right attitude rather than the right experience. As he points out in the company manifesto, “If a team member has a smile, we can train them to accomplish anything.”

Retaining the all-important family ethos was critical and this commitment to creating an extension of the family remains. In the recent Apex Hotels TV commercial to promote the ‘Warmer Welcome’ offered in its hotels Apex used real staff not actors to genuinely communicate this brand ethos. Over fifty staff volunteered, with eight staff selected to appear in the final cut.

If you’ve stayed with us before you’ll know there’s a trademark rubber duck left in each room. A limited edition platinum duck to celebrate the 20th anniversary designed by staff is the latest addition to the duck family. The name ‘Springy’ was selected and voted for by members of Apex Hotels’ social media community and you may be lucky enough to be greeted by him this summer when you enter your Apex room.

Apex Hotels has since grown to 930 staff across nine hotels in Edinburgh, London, Dundee and Glasgow with 10,000 rubber ducks per month going home with guests. Due to open in the summer of 2017, the £35m, Apex City of Bath Hotel will have 177 bedrooms, a swimming pool, gym, conference and meeting facilities for more than 420 people.

In an industry dominated by global hotel chains, Apex Hotels is still family owned with the reins now passed onto the next generation. Norman’s son, Ian, is now Chairman. Ian also runs his own successful architect practice, ISA, which is responsible for design and build of new Apex Hotels. David Springfield, Norman’s other son, has his own photography company and his photos are featured throughout the Hotels. Norman’s wife Dorothy and daughter Jo also sit on the board.

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Business Comment is the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce’s bi-monthly magazine. It provides insight on Edinburgh’s vibrant business community, with features on the city’s key sectors, interviews with leading figures and news on new business developments in the capital.
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