Clinton Armour, CEO of ANEW Hotels & Resorts

While the COVID-19 pandemic has dealt a hard blow to the hospitality industry, ANEW Hotels & Resorts appears to be doing something right, having more than doubled its property portfolio. Towards the end of 2020, the South African business acquired Fortis Hotel Group and its six properties, followed by Ocean Reef Hotel on KwaZulu-Natal’s north coast. This brings the company’s total portfolio to eleven properties in four provinces – Gauteng, North West, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal.

Clinton Armour, CEO of the brand, believes a lot of this success can be attributed to being a family-run business. Founded in 1952, the company has five key values that define its culture. These are honour, integrity, teamwork, excellence and courage.

Armour explains, “Honour and integrity in everything we do, how we serve our guests, our staff and the community. Teamwork and excellence go hand-in-hand as we’re dedicated to being as meticulous as possible and exceeding expectations. Finally, the courage to not only face but embrace challenges in our way and use these opportunities for learning and growth. I believe that living by these values certainly contributes to our business’s success. As we grow the brand, we continue to make those characteristics and values a part of everything we do.”

Other famous family-run businesses include Nike, Volkswagen, Samsung Electronics and Walmart.

He believes that family-run businesses come with many innate advantages; “Most of the largest companies in any economy are family-owned companies, and, on average, family-owned companies perform better and last longer when compared to other businesses.”

For example, other famous family-run businesses include Nike, Volkswagen, Samsung Electronics and Walmart.

He adds that family-run businesses are “built on strong relationships and genuine care for one another, making for a more personal experience.” This is especially powerful in the hospitality sector, where visitors are seeking a warm and welcoming experience.

Another reason why family-led companies succeed, argues Armour, is that they are more agile and can adapt and change direction very quickly. Larger corporate brands may have struggled to do this, especially during the pandemic.

“In times of strife, most healthy families come together to support each other, and that’s what ANEW’s approach was.”

And, he says, “In times of strife, most healthy families come together to support each other, and that’s what ANEW’s approach was. And while everybody has undoubtedly felt the impact of the pandemic in one way or another, we hope that the vast majority of our staff have really felt comforted being part of our brand and our family during this time.”

ANEW Lodge Hluhluwe

Of course, family-run businesses also face their own set of unique challenges. “As the business grows and inevitably changes, so will the roles within the company,” he says. “It is, therefore, vital to create a structure and formalise key roles. No designated roles within the family can lead to a potential weakness where people get involved in different business areas that won’t necessarily be of value to the growth of the business or the individual. So, businesses need to structure good communication and define key roles, ultimately eliminating any potential weaknesses that stem from working with family members. Then, there’s only strength that follows.”

“One of the biggest misconceptions business owners have is that a company needs to be successful right away. There’s no quick fix to success.”

Other advice Armour offers to South African business owners is to not expect immediate success. “One of the biggest misconceptions business owners have is that a company needs to be successful right away. There’s no quick fix to success; it doesn’t happen overnight. Everything is a learning process,” he says. “As a business, ANEW has made a point in learning and growing from the challenges we’ve faced. I think the biggest flame in those times of discouragement and hopelessness was our ability to push through and accept the lessons being learnt. Remember that, in those difficult times, without realising it, there are seeds that are being planted that will come into fruition later.”

“Ultimately, if you believe in something and you’re determined and passionate about your business, it can become a success. Do your homework and speak to mentors and industry professionals from whom you can learn; people who’ve run the race for a long time and who have industry and business knowledge to pass down. Keep pushing through, and of course, don’t give up,” he concludes.

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