Growing Your Pub Business: Is It Time To Run A Second Pub?

running a pub, trading up, pub tenancy
Written by: Pub Partners Team
Date added: Mon, 05/12/2016 - 10:00

Are you interested in growing your pub business and building up a multi-site portfolio? Already operating a successful pub?  Then this could be the ideal time for you to invest in a second pub and start to realise your dream of running a number of successful pubs.

Running two or more pubs is an ideal way of creating a really solid, strong business concept with lots of potential growth for the future.  Investing in more than one pub can be the start of something really exciting and profitable for you and your family.

Landlords who have successfully operated a pub for a few years, and have created a viable pub business model are well placed to consider expansion.  You have the background, the experience and the clear proof that you have the necessary business skills. 

Below I outline the benefits of running another pub, but if you already know that this is what you want to do – let’s get started today! Request a call back from our team here and we can start talking about your plans for the future.

Why Running a Second Pub Makes Financial Sense

Operating more than one pub can make financial sense.  There are considerable cost savings to be made by having more than one outlet. 

Andrea and Alan Smith-Bowes recently took on The Elizabethan pub in Dunfermline, increasing their pub portfolio to six.  Andrea comments, “Running six pubs means that we can employ centralised resources to help make the most of our businesses.”

Previous experience had taught them the best way to maximise customer appeal and market their new acquisition. They used Facebook and Twitter extensively as well as producing 25,000 leaflets offering 25% off a meal. These leaflets were distributed locally via a door drop to houses and businesses within their catchment area. In Andrea’s words “the response was fantastic.”

You can read Andrea and Alan’s case study on The Elizabethan here.

Create A Family Businesses

Expanding your business away from being a one-site operation can be ideal for family businesses as Andrew Macmillan of The Swan at Long Melford discovered.  “We got into the business because my son was a chef and wanted to build his own business.  We found a site, and created a family business. Other children joined in.” 

As a result they now operate three sites – the Long Melford Swan, the Ram at Hadleigh and the Greyhound in Lavenham. 

Watch this video to hear what Andrew says about running a family pub business.

You Know What You’re Doing!

Moving onto a second site is much easier than setting up a new business for the first time. You already have all the basics in terms of a business plan which just has to be amended to take into account any special requirements for the next site - such as studying the catchment area and style of trading.  It is very much a matter of taking the business concept that you have created and adapting to a new site. 

Ideally, your next site should be within easy distance of your original pub, but not competing with it. A nearby village or town is perfect.  Admittedly there can be exceptions to this rule as Tom Kerridge has proved.  By focusing on different markets, he has been able to run two pubs within the same area.

Two Pubs, Two Different Offerings

Tom Kerridge has operated the Hand & Flowers at Marlow since 2005 before adding a sister site, The Coach in 2014. The Coach is also in Marlow.  The two sites work in tandem, yet are slightly different. 

In an interview with The Caterer Tom says, “About 12 of us from the Hand sat down and talked about what we want from a pub: where should it be, how can we make it work. We wanted it to be a place where you could have interesting and affordable drinks and food, but I didn’t want to serve a three course meal.”

“We looked at the Coach and thought, why can’t we do a Weatherspoon-style pub that is of a standard that we want and a place that we would like to be. The business model is amazing, but we wanted more.  We have a head chef that’s been at the Hand & Flowers for five years, so we decided that if he would make the pies, we’d do whatever else.”

Talking to your Business Development Manager can help crystallise your plans.  Letting them know that you are interested in expanding your activities, and opening more pubs can open doors that you had not expected.  The Business Development Manager will know what is happening in your area, and can alert you to pubs that may be suitable for your purposes.  They can identify pubs that could fit neatly into your business concept, or are ideal for converting to meet your ideas.  

Getting The Right Team In Place

It is also important to ensure that you have the right people available to run and manage your pubs.  With two or more pubs, you can’t do everything yourself! Therefore you have to have pub managers and staff whom you can trust to run the pub just as you want it.

Sometimes successful landlords can be approached to see if they are interested in expanding.  This is exactly what happened at the Countryman in Nottingham. Greene King asked landlords Peter and Shirley if they wanted to take on second pub, The Bromley in Fiskerton.

Shirley was soon convinced that they could succeed in such expansion saying “our four sons work in the business, so we knew that the standards we set at The Countryman would be easy to repeat for another pub.  I’m passionate about training and developing people. We had trained Daniel, our manager at The Countryman, and I realised that this was the best way to get the perfect person who could work to the standards we wanted. So when we were looking at The Bromley, there was a member of our team who we felt could take on the responsibility. Alan, one of our waiters, joined us 3 years ago and already had a business degree – with training he would be right for the job.”

Choosing the best time to invest needs a little bit of thought, some discussion with your Business Development Manager, and those people who are already involved in your current pub. It is certainly an opportunity that any successful pub landlord should consider if they want to grow their business.