The event, held at Savill Court Hotel, gave attendees an insight into innovations and developments in the pub trade, with speakers ranging from successful multiple retailers to shadow business minister, Toby Perkins MP, who outlined Labour’s policy on pubs and alcohol.
CGA account director Scott Elliott opened the morning session with a presentation on current and future trends in the industry. He explained that whilst traditional wet-led drinking occasions showed the biggest decline, the number of pub closures was at its lowest rate since 2007, with branded food operations showing a rate of 8.2 openings for every closure.
Managing director of Geronimo, Rupert Clevely, shared his experience of running the business after its acquisition by Young’s. He told delegates “we had to sell”, but added “just because we are part of a larger PLC it shouldn’t mean that Geronimo has to change its philosophy in any way.”
Geronimo will open a new pop-up bar in time for the Olympics at Westfield in Stratford. It will be called the Calf, and accompany the permanent Geronimo site, the Cow, which opened at Westfield last year.
A rise in soft drink sales in the on-trade was revealed by Britvic unit director Andrew Boyd who also outlined some of the hit and misses in recent new product development (NPD).
The challenges and rewards of running a microbrewery alongside a pub company were put into perspective by two operators, Convivial Pubs CEO Kris Gumbrell, and Dark Star managing director, Paul Reed.
Philip Lay, SA Brain’s retail director, who has overseen the development of the Coffee One chain, in addition to Brains’ pub estate, gave his insights into pubs’ opportunities for selling coffee, before two successful operators showed the value of innovation.
G1 Group’s director of brands and standards David Tracey took the audience on a tour of the company’s flagship venue, the Corinthian Club in Glasgow, a £5.2 investment, before Black Dog Ballroom owner Ross McKenzie shared some of his secrets to success in building up his Manchester speakeasy brand, as well as plans for a new bowling concept, Dogbowl. Manager of the renowned Liar’s Club, Lyndon Higginson, went on to show how Tiki Bars had an appeal across the Atlantic, with expansion firmly on the agenda.
The keynote speech from Toby Perkins preceded the closing session, which included presentations from CPL Online managing director David Dasher, PudAid director Yaser Martini, and Heineken sales director Les Murphy.
The next MA250 event will take place in Liverpool on 27 September.