Are you being served? Karen Penn, Major Accounts Manager, Comtrex - The Clubhouse London

News from in & around
The Clubhouse

Are you being served? Karen Penn, Major Accounts Manager, Comtrex

Tell us about your company and how it started.
Comtrex supply point of sale, stock management and reporting applications to a wide variety of restaurants in the UK. Our clients include large casual dining chains, including Prezzo, Zizzi and Bills, along with emerging brands like The Ivy Collection, which has gone from one site to 20 within 18 months and is planning to double in size again this year. We also provide solutions for independent operators from coffee shops to fine dining restaurants.

What has been your biggest success to date?
I think our biggest success is the relationships that we have developed with our clients, understanding their individual requirements. We have partnered with Cote from the start of their journey to supporting them into an estate of over 90 sites now. You cannot put a price on a relationship like that and that is what we consider a success, building our business as our clients build theirs, changing and adapting together.

What project are you most excited about right now?
The restaurant industry has some challenges at the moment and our client base is amongst the businesses who face tough rents, increasing food prices and the issue of a potential change in recruitment with Brexit. However, our challenge is to help them become more profitable and using handheld terminals at the table instead of fixed terminals in the restaurant is a project that I believe will reap rewards for our partners. Having the waiter able to take your order, recommend you wines based on your choices and complete your payment with a discount voucher, credit card payment and deliver your receipt without wandering off across the restaurant has advantages both for our clients and the happiness of theirs. This could be revolutionary for some of our customers.

How has being a member of The Clubhouse contributed to the success of your business?
Having a location so close to my clients’ offices is great. I am more productive between meetings with them and have a base should they wish to meet me here. We can hold professional training courses in the meeting rooms and have even had a three-day showcase where we introduced new technology to our partners.

Where can members find you?
Usually at The Clubhouse, St James’s but occasionally in Mayfair – especially when I have a meeting with one of my favourite clients, Hush – it’s such a beautiful restaurant just around the corner.


Quick Fire Round

Favourite place to go in London?
With my job, that is a difficult choice, I do get to visit some stunning restaurants! The Ivy at Tower Bridge with a view across the river to the Tower of London is probably my favourite.

Who inspires you and why?
My children inspire me often – they are very observant and always challenging the way I look at things. They are probably my biggest inspiration.

Best bit of advice you’ve been given?
Always pick your best eleven – given to me by an old boss he meant that you should pick your team based on their skills and there should always be competition to make the team.

If you were on a desert island, what would you bring?
I am a podcast addict and not a fan of silence, and as a lapsed Brownie I should be able to fend for myself! Therefore what I would really like is to listen to some interesting radio to while away the time until I am rescued.

Which super power would you like to have?
I think mind reading might be quite useful; on occasion I wonder if my clients think I have this super power already.

This article was originally featured in The Informer. To read the full magazine, please click here.