Four Horseshoes Thornham

Written by: Sarah Milward
Date added: Wed, 17/02/2016 - 14:05

An instinct for business

After leaving school Thomas’ friends were all going to college and university, but he felt that wasn’t right for him. Instead he began an Apprenticeship in hospitality, choosing to work at The Four Horseshoes. A historic pub set in the heart of Suffolk, The Four Horseshoes is a picturesque pub with a striking pink façade and classic thatched roof – everybody’s idea of a perfect British Inn.

After completing his course, he had worked at several other pubs and noticed that there was an opportunity to take on the Lease for The Four Horseshoes. ‘I jumped at the chance,’ says Thomas, ‘I knew the pub well and I was confident that I could run it, but even though I understood the business, I still made sure that I did my homework before I approached Greene King.’

‘The pub is one of the oldest in Suffolk and dates back to 1150, it has a Grade 2 listing,’ he adds. ‘Part of taking on this type of Agreement is that the Lease is fully repairing, which means I am responsible for the upkeep of the building and grounds. That doesn’t concern me at all – the appearance of the pub is part of its charm and what attracts passing customers to stop by for a drink or meal. So it’s a sensible business decision to keep things looking perfect. There are other pubs and restaurants in the area and it’s my job to make the Four Horseshoes stand out to draw all the passing trade.’

‘When I took on the Lease, I was only 19 years old and the youngest Licensee in Britain at the time. That gave me a huge boost. The PR that my age generated was amazing and helped me to establish myself. However, people soon see through the dazzle if you aren’t on top of your game. I have had to back it up with the highest standards of service so they keep coming back for more. I like to think that the pub is my marketing tool – they can see it is kept beautifully and it advertises to everybody that I take pride in my business.’

‘It’s a busy pub to run. In addition to serving food and drink, there are seven letting rooms that are occupied most of the time and I like to make sure they are run to the highest standards too. As you would expect, I am a big fan of Apprenticeships because that’s how I got my big break in the business. I took on the pub in 2008 and since then, I have trained more than 20 Apprentices – and most have gone on to full careers in hospitality. It’s great that I have been able to shape people’s lives for the good and share my ideas of how a good pub should be managed.’

‘I want the Four Horseshoes to be the heart and sole of the village and I’m very careful about the entertainment I put on so I don’t ruin the atmosphere. That means no TVs and no sport although we do have music nights, usually playing folk or traditional music.

I use Facebook now and then, to keep in touch with people. But really, I know everybody in the village and they know me too. That’s a much better way of keeping people posted about what’s going on.’

‘With most pub companies, having a Lease can mean that the Operator is left to work on their own. But not with Greene King. Our relationship is excellent and even though I don’t have to use their services, I find they are always helpful and support me when I need it. I reckon they deserve a 10 out of 10!’