How Greene King are innovating how pubs are run

The traditional relationship between a landlord (brewery or pub company) and tenant has changed dramatically in recent years. Once pub agreements centred around landlords collecting rents, selling beer to their tenants, and leaving the running of the business up to the tenant.

Now we’re seeing a more collaborative and innovative approach with landlords supporting their tenants to enable them to run successful businesses. Greene King Business Development Manager Mark Horton says, “The landlord earns on the success of the tenant and so that means the landlord needs to be more open and more supportive. It’s important from a commercial point of view.”

The traditional tied pub agreement has also seen some innovation in recent years, not least with the Pub Code coming into force in 2016. But perhaps the most innovation is being seen in the type of people and companies who are taking pub tenancies and leases; and making their pubs a great success. They're entrepreneurial people who understand that the pub industry has changed, that the pub is no longer the main focus of people’s leisure time, and as such they need to meet customer demand for a different kind of leisure offer.

Mark Horton says, “it [the pub industry] gets tougher every year, but as a result we get to work with more innovative and exciting partners. That’s what gets me out of bed every morning.”

When recruiting new operators, Mark looks for people with true entrepreneurial spirit, commercial acumen combined with brilliant retailing skills and an ability to adapt and change quickly in a fast moving sector.

Helping Pub Operators Run Successful Pub Businesses

Greene King is always keen to support people with the drive, enthusiasm and ideas to make a pub tenancy a success. Naturally a pub tenancy requires a financial investment* and a commercial eye to ensure that the figures add up and you make a good return on your initial investment. However it is the people behind the business – the operator and the landlord – that make the pub a success and that requires an innovative approach.

Here are some of the ways Greene King is helping our pub operators innovate:

Sharing best practice: our Business Development Managers (BDMs) share market insights, best practices and information about the projects Greene King and our operators are involved in. For example, if an operator is considering a refurbishment we have a wealth of experience and expertise to draw on to help them invest their money wisely and get a good ROI.

Investment: Greene King is constantly investing in our pubs, not just those in Managed House but also offering Capex schemes to our pub tenants. This is not limited to one project, some operators have accessed our Capex scheme several times in order to maximise their pub and drive more profit from the business. Capex schemes may be transformational – such as a complete refurbishment of a pub – or for smaller projects like garden improvements, extensions and conversions.

Networking opportunities: throughout the year our BDMs and regional Operations Managers provide pub operators with opportunities to meet each other, get inspiration from other businesses and also find out about what’s new at Greene King. Operators have a chance to talk to each other about their businesses, discuss ideas collectively with other operators and our team, and share best practice and their experience.

New induction programme: we have recently introduced a new induction programme designed to support licensees through the process of taking on a pub tenancy right up to the end of their first 100 days of trading. We want to set licensees are for success, not hand over the keys and let them sink or swim!

Innovative schemes and ideas: Greene King has various packages and schemes that our tenants can easily roll in out in their pub. For example, our new cinema package makes it easy for a pub operator to start a regular cinema night. Our garden schemes are bringing unused space back into use and helping pub operators to maximise their outdoor areas.

Thinking outside the box: challenges can sometimes be opportunities such as how to attract customers on hot and sunny days when you don’t have a beer garden. Often pubs with limited outside space can lose trade during the summer; we look for ways to attract customers and buck the trend by introducing innovative ideas. Like alcoholic Slushies and frozen cocktail popsicles, bringing summer trade to pubs without a beer garden.

Outdoor bars: many pub operators are now seeing a good return on investment having put in an outdoor bar. This is an opportunity to maximise outdoor space and sales during the summer months and warmer evenings. Outdoor bars don’t have to be static. Some pub operators have converted Airstream trailers, VW campervans and other vehicles into mobile bars, providing them with a talking point in the garden and the flexibility to move the bar around or put into storage in the winter months.

Reinventing pub food: pub menus are increasingly innovative offering very different food offers to standard pub fayre. Those pubs that offer English pub food are taking it to new levels with signature dishes, locally sourced products and premium ingredients. Other pubs are mixing it up with fusion food offers such as Asian inspired menus, specialising in a particular dish like pies or wood fired pizza, or offering a fine dining experience.

Innovative agreements: our standard tenancy and lease are our principle agreements but we do have the flexibility to offer different agreements if it’s in the interests of the pub, operator, Greene King and customers. We work with operators to ensure that they can offer the right products to their customer demographic. If this means offering a wider range of drinks or operating the pub in a different way, we’re open to ideas. We also support entrepreneurial 'would be' operators and help them get their foot in the door. If someone has great ideas, drive, and enthusiasm we will help them explore ways to get the capital in place and get the right pub to put their ideas into practice.

If you think you have the right experience, drive and passion for running a pub, in the first instance apply using our online application form. We’ll then be in touch to find out more about you and discuss the options.