Yesterday’s launch of PUB19 was fantastic. We’re still at the event today, so make sure you drop by stand F32 to say hello! Kevin Green, Regional Director of our stocktaking division, and Steph Collyer, our head of Food Health and Safety division, can discuss your pub company’s needs in both these areas.
For those of you who are thinking of popping by London Olympia at some point today, here’s a snapshot of the type of fantastic insight you can get by attending some of the free talks they’ve arranged.
CGA talks about optimism in the Pub Industry
To start the day off Karl Chessell from CGA Insight looked at the current pub sector scene, with the UK now boasting almost 50K pubs!
A notable development in the sector has been the increase in managed pubs (+11%) in comparison to tenanted pubs (-23%). Drink-led pubs in particular have been the key drivers of growth in the sector, especially among medium sized operators, so it certainly isn’t all bad news.
The food-led contingent of pub operators, are unsurprisingly less optimistic than drink-led operators, with the CGA claiming that the sector is now at its “peak” for food-led venues and not expecting many more openings. For drink-led venues there seems to be more opportunity for sustainable growth this year.
What do customers want? CGA insights expects to see those in the sector that offer “immersive experiences” such as through sport or live music, on-site brewing and collaborations with festivals to be those that are going to be the most attractive in the year ahead.
Growing your business
With a great line-up of some of the industry’s top bosses, this panel discussion was hugely interesting.
Starting off the discussion, a common consensus was reached amongst those in the panel that before growing your business you need to have a point of differentiation. More than that though, according to Peach Pubs owner, Lee Cash, it was about “finding like-minded people” that are going to love your brand and values to help you grow. Charlie McVeigh, Founder of Draft House strongly agreed with Lee. He even went as far to say that, without having that mind set, your point of differentiation isn’t important.
So how do you grow? According to James Nye, MD at Anglian Country Inns, it’s about putting the right structure in place before your try to grow, or else you risk the company imploding. It’s about looking after the estate you do have, then setting the framework for growth, yet giving the managers the freedom to run with it. He said that at the point of growing beyond three sites, you almost have to give up a “sense of control”.
The Seafood Pub Co Founder and MD, Joycelyn Neve, too mentioned the need to allow for a sense of “autonomy” in the menu creation and that this was the recipe for maintaining better quality.
Are there any struggles? Lee Cash from Peach Pubs said that the hardest part of growing your business is to keep the balance between the creative side of your business and yet at the same time landing the basics, like your food safety and maintaining standards. Something that we at Venners can help you with.
The New Age of Pubs for the Modern Consumer
Exploring this topic with a great line-up of panellists who run some of the hottest pubs in the country this was a really interesting discussion about what the modern consumer looks like.
Scott Hunter, Founder and Director of Noble Inns believes that modern consumers are more aware of what “good” looks like. Barley Pop Founder and Owner, Nigel Owen added that they’re “more engaged” and “more knowledgeable” about both the offer and the products. Lastly, Luke Scanlon, who is the Co-Founder and General Manager at Hackney Brewery, believed that the consumer is more fickle now and you therefore only have one chance to impress. “If you’re not good enough they won’t come back”. According to him, it’s all about making sure they have a great experience.
So what can pubs do to attract the modern consumer? Scott’s top tips included: running a business in an ethical way, being engaged in the community, employing the best people and being the best. According to him, the product being good isn’t good enough anymore. It’s about delivering great customer experience and to do that you need to get the basic things right. Things like cleanliness. Luke said it was about interacting with customers about the products you sell, that way they know you’re not going to sell them a rubbish beer. Nigel’s take on this was to always look at what’s new and what’s better, rather than looking over your shoulder.
All three panelists seemed to agree that there needs to be some type of attitude shift in the pub industry. There’s a new wave of independence, said Scott. A lot of it is about “not taking the customers for granted”. Luke too said it was about learning from customer feedback, not being complacent or accepting the status quo. Nigel felt that there was a real need for more youth in the sector and to talk more about the positives, not just the negatives.
For those of you at the event today, we hope you have a wonderful time!