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A LEADING restaurateur praises leadership programme for helping develop their workforce

David Evans, managing director of the award-winning Dylan’s group of restaurants, said enrolling staff on the Bangor University-based ION Leadership programme has played a part in their success.

David and business partner Robin Hodgson launched the company in Menai Bridge seven years ago with 12 kitchen and front-of-house staff.

They have since opened restaurants in Criccieth and Llandudno, unveiled a head office in Llangefni and now employ up to 200 people.

With revenue increasing by 10% year-on-year, and plans to open more sites in the future, David – who founded the Hooch clothing range and helped lead global brand Bench from the wilderness to international acclaim – has a clear vision for the road ahead.

“We have come a long way in a short space of time, and that’s down to hard work, our dedication to this beautiful region, supporting local food producers and investing in our incredible staff,” said David.

“We have placed 10 employees on the ION Leadership programme, and it has made a difference, helping them to grow with the company and step into new roles.

“People are at the heart of every decision we make, not just profit, which is why we plan to send more of our team on the course and will continue to promote from within.

“That has been our attitude since the start, and part of the reason we secured a Gold Investors in People Award.”

One of those to have graduated from ION and risen through the ranks is Clio Evans, who joined Dylan’s as a waitress before being promoted to assistant manager at Menai Bridge.

“I really enjoyed the course, it built up my confidence and was an opportunity to network and gain experience of other industries,” said Clio, from Bangor.

“I’m proud to be a member of the team at Dylan’s; when I started, I never dreamed I would be helping to make decisions and manage the restaurant.

“The support we receive, and everything I learnt through ION Leadership, has helped me to develop personally and professionally.”

With plans for two further waterside North Wales restaurants in the years ahead, David, who recently became a grandfather, admits he himself is still learning.

Having been successful in the arenas of fashion, property and now hospitality, his focus is on matters of the heart, and not just business.

“We are of course ambitious to keep growing organically and sustainably, but it’s more important we retain what we have and that our customers and staff are happy,” he said.

“That is why people keep coming back, and why we are proud to use, wherever possible, only  produce from suppliers and independent providers in this area, to keep things fresh and strengthen our identity.

“We will continue to train and develop our staff, in-house and with ION, so they can blossom into future managers, chefs and leaders in other areas of the business. That’s what makes me proudest of all, and something that will always be a priority for Robin and I.”

For more on Dylan’s restaurants, visit the website:

Visit to sign up for the ION Leadership programme, which is up to 70% subsidised by the European Social Fund (ESF) via Welsh Government. 

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