Change is inevitable and not always controllable, but it is how you respond that determines the outcome

Keystone’s trading became distressed when several independent events coincided in a short period of time:

  • The introduction of lockout laws in the Sydney CBD – immediately and drastically reducing revenue, profitability and working capital across several core venues.

  • The acquisition of the restaurant group, which doubled the size of the business – it quickly became clear that the combined business of pubs, bars and restaurants was not performing in line with expectation.

  • Strategy to open venues and rapidly expand the business’ footprint – requiring high levels of capital outlay. Hospitality businesses require constant provision for capital expenditure to remain current and relevant to their market. Capital expenditure and routine repairs and maintenance are often deferred or curtailed when a business faces challenges which in turn has a compounding impact on trade and financial performance.

The timing of these pressures (combined with a sizeable debt burden) challenged Keystone’s ability to respond to its changing market dynamics.


We managed the business through the crisis management phase and set clear objectives to rapidly stabilise trading to protect value. We subsequently managed a structured divestment program of the portfolio of venues.

Planning, open and honest communication and the ability to make agile and decisive changes were the key pillars to our work.









1. Communication is key: We proactively agreed key messages before engaging with stakeholders. Our key objective was to gain the trust and buy-in from a wide range of stakeholders. Employees were our number one priority, and we held face-to-face meetings and issued business updates regularly.

2. Timely, relevant and concise financial information: We built and maintained a robust financial model to support decision making required to manage the business’ changing financial position. We were able to quickly make informed decisions based on real time information to stabilise operations, maximise its trading position and enable the restructure of the business.

3. Realising quick wins and conserving the cash position: A strategic review of all areas of the business’ operations was undertaken to identify and prioritise areas for conserving cash and reducing operating costs. Internal controls and budgets were immediately placed around purchasing to minimise expenditure. All supplier contracts were re-tendered to quickly yield margin improvements.

4. Maintaining trading momentum: Obtaining the confidence of employees, suppliers, landlords and other stakeholders meant the difference between success and failure. Stakeholders required certainty of position, and we committed to maintaining the momentum of the business and the restructuring process.

The key elements to ensure your business and team can respond to a challenging situation are: 

1. Take control:

  • Understand the situation and identify the real drivers of the crisis

  • Allocate responsibilities and define clear objectives

  • Put employees first

2. Implement immediate steps to mitigate risks:

  • Address key issues quickly but ensure any repercussions are fully understood

  • Monitor and secure the short-term liquidity position

  • Prioritise quick wins

3. Provide a clear and timely communication strategy:

  • Issue an open and honest message

  • Rebuild stakeholder confidence via regular communication

  • Display a positive mindset and "can do" attitude

How can we help?

We frequently work with corporates to assist management teams navigate uncertainty – we can make the difference to how your business preserves, creates and delivers value in times of crisis.

Our experienced team knows that a successful turnaround must address the fundamental problems, tackle the underlying causes and be broad and deep enough to resolve all key business issues within each phase of a turnaround.