Swanwick Marina, part of the Premier Marinas portfolio

The operator of the UK’s most prestigious marinas has transformed its staff training through a partnership with leading development provider WELL Training.

Premier Marinas Limited, which owns popular sites on the South Coast, has benefitted from a long-term relationship with WELL, during which they have enhanced the support for raising the performance of colleagues throughout the business. In the latest success, WELL delivered a digital-based course which has set new standards for Premier’s training.

Established in 1994, Premier operates leading marinas, from Sovereign Harbour in Eastbourne and Brighton Marina, both in East Sussex, to Chichester Marina in West Sussex, Southsea, Port Solent, Gosport and Swanwick marinas in Hampshire, as well as Noss-on Dart in Devon and Falmouth Marina in Cornwall. The acquisition of a tenth site, Universal Marina on the River Hamble in Hampshire, was recently announced.

As part of their future strategy, Premier identified an opportunity to enhance their people learning to support the development of their services. Working with WELL they created the new Premier Academy, which gives a comprehensive development pathway for staff as they develop through the organisation from boatyard operative level right the way through to strategic leaders.

To set the standards for the new academy, WELL initially trained Premier’s “learning champions”, the staff responsible for employee development, with the sessions held digitally due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Drawing upon extensive online teaching experience built up from working with leading brands including high street coffee chain Caffe Nero, homeware retailer Charles Bentley and fintech food delivery business City Pantry, recently rebranded as Just Eat For Food, the WELL team designed the online courses amid the challenges around social distancing and home working.

Two Premier cohorts, made up of staff ranging from marina managers to head office employees, have progressed through the WELL programme. The first saw nine participants complete four Zoom sessions, with 15 people taking part in five classes in the second. WELL, which has its headquarters in Queen Street, Wolverhampton, used video technology to guide participants.

Lianne Russell, Director of Teaching Learning and Assessment, led the programme for WELL Training. She said: “The Premier Academy has been a great success, both in meeting Premier’s objectives of making a strong impact upon the learning culture within the business, and in growing WELL’s experience of working with cohorts over digital channels.

“Having worked with Premier in the past, the Covid-19 pandemic brought a change of plans and meant we had to deliver an extensive course online, rather than face to face. At a time when staff were at home, the digital platform not only allowed us to teach but it let us create break-out rooms, whereby colleagues could discuss shared experiences and build stronger links for working together.

“Premier Marinas is an incredibly supportive business, where people are encouraged to do the right thing throughout the work, so we have worked with their training team to provide the cohorts with the tools and techniques to build their confidence.

“Because of the health and safety requirements of working in a marina environment, the course covered ways of working safely while developing customer relationships. As part of the training, every person in each cohort had to design, deliver and assess a session for learners, helping us to ‘train the trainers’.”

After WELL helped Premier develop the Academy development pathway, the training provider is now building upon its success with future programmes, including developing their own online digital learning platform.

Lianne said: “The ‘learning champions’ were adept at utilising digital technologies to enhance learning experiences and will be the people generating the content for their training platform moving forward so we are giving them the skills they need to fully own, create and curate their digital resource.”

Premier’s company vision is “to be the finest marina operator in the UK”, based on providing customers with “quality marinas in good locations and superb customer service” as well as investment in their sites and staff training. Its core business is the wet and dry berthing of leisure craft, with more than 5,000 berths plus storage ashore for a further 2,000 boats.

Tracey Jefkins, HR manager at Premier Marinas, said the WELL course had proved a success. Tracey said: “We value our partnership with WELL as they offer practical solutions to our learning needs, which again proved the case as they supported us through the Covid lockdown. Our staff are encouraged to be active learners so working with WELL helps us build staff development at all levels.

“We had planned the courses before the pandemic but moving to digital learning, based on WELL’s experience, proved a great success, allowing us to support staff development at a time when colleagues were working from home.

“Working with WELL has increased the confidence of the staff who took part. Using the digital training, they received training and had the opportunity to offer feedback and develop new skills. We would recommend working with WELL and will continue to build on this success in shaping our partnership in the future.”

Since launching in 2010, WELL Training have built a strong international reputation as a leading partner for apprenticeships, as well as training in leadership, management coaching, mentoring, learning and staff development. Working with a range of clients across public and private sector, they operate both in the UK and overseas in Europe, the USA, Middle East and Asia.