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Meet the GBPA nominees: Best Partnership Pub sponsored by Ei Group

By Ed Bedington , 11-Aug-2017

Great British Pub Awards 2017: The winners will be revealed at the Hilton on Park lane on 7 September
Great British Pub Awards 2017: The winners will be revealed at the Hilton on Park lane on 7 September

The last in our second set of previews of each of the 100+ finalists in this year’s John Smith’s Great British Pub Awards is the Best Partnership Pub category, sponsored by Ei Group

This category recognises licensees that have been the best exponents of the tenanted/leased/franchise model over the past year.

Eagle & Child, Ramsbottom

Already a well-established operation, with a superb reputation for food, landlord Glen Duckett and pubco Daniel Thwaites wanted to move the Lancashire business forward in partnership. Early in 2017, they jointly invested more than half a million pounds in a substantial refurbishment to bring the building back to its former coaching inn glory days. The Eagle & Child has been updated to feature a modern “orangery” dining room complementing the traditional Victorian charm of the tap room, while the former function room has been transformed into five boutique bedrooms, with design touches featuring bespoke artwork.

The partnership between Duckett and Thwaites has seen a formerly boarded-up pub with a poor reputation turned into an important community asset which is helping to address youth unemployment and trading.

The Lion, Treorchy, South Wales

A strong relationship, offering support in all areas of the business, has helped bring the Lion to the front of the pack. Significant investment has been made over the last few years by Enterprise, all of which licensee Adrian Emmett has had oversight of. The bar has been extended, booth seating installed, a stage area created and an upstairs room converted into a sports room. Another key area of investment has been the pub’s outdoor space, where Emmett was keen to see trade extended into the colder months.

With the idea of creating a year-round space, Emmett and his regional manager visited sites across the south-west and Midlands to look for inspiration.

The result is a large 48-metre wooden shelter created in the garden, with booth seating, outside music and heaters.

The Pig & Whistle, Wandsworth

Following a £150,000 investment in a major refurbishment, the Pig & Whistle in Wandsworth, south London, has become the flagship site for the Ram Pub Company. Along with the refurb, the pub also brought in a new range of craft beers, and the combined effect has seen sales grow significantly.

Support of the business has extended into the virtual world, with the pubco providing expert advice and guidance when it came to creating an online profile, with a collaborative approach to building the pub an impressive and good-looking website. Freedom to innovate has been key, and the pub has put together an impressive tequila menu, with shots ranging from £6 a go to £26.

Chilli sauces are another key ingredient for this operation and a special cupboard featuring unique and wonderful hot sauces from around the world is proving an attractive draw.

The Mill, Stokesley

Despite having a strong team on board at the Mill, licensee Alex Cook is not afraid to look for support and with Star Pubs & Bars he’s certainly found it. Training has been a key focus of the partnership between the pub and pubco, with courses sought out and targeted to ensure maximum benefit to the pub’s operation.

One example of this saw Star and Cook identify a strong opportunity for cask ale at the site. As a result, the pubco ensured specialist training was provided for key members of the team, which has encouraged the pub to double its cask range and introduce its own exclusive cask ale, The Mill Ale, a beer that was developed in partnership with Theakstons and Star. As a direct result of the training and knock-on development, the Mill, in Stokesley, North Yorkshire, has seen its volumes of cask ale sales increase by a massive 47%.

The Plume of Feathers, Barlaston

Celebrities and pubs are not always the best mix but popular actor Neil Morrissey appears to be proving the exception. In partnership with Punch, he has taken a struggling business and created a superb community- focused pub which is going from strength to strength.

Next to the canal at Barlaston in Staffordshire, the Plume opened in March 2015 with substantial joint investment from Morrisey’s team and Punch. From day one the focus was on developing links with the local community while providing a continuously improving and innovative business model.

Offering a great range of drinks alongside an impressive food offer, the pub has quickly cemented its place in the area, drawing customers in from

far and wide. Part of its success is attributed to the strong working relationship it has with Punch’s team.

7 Saints, Pretswick, Scotland

Much of this quirky, modern cocktail bar and burger kitchen’s success has been down to the collaboration between licensee Nick Livingstone and pubco Star Pubs & Bars. Star had originally envisaged a traditional draft-led high-street pub operation, but embraced Livingstone’s offbeat vision which has rapidly seen the pub establish itself as one of the best in the area.

The pub is on course to expand into the future, with a focus on premiumisation and extension of the food offer to encompass breakfast at one end of the day through to a pared- down late-night offer at the other.

Having spent his formative years in the hospitality industry, Livinsgtone had long harboured a dream to run his own business. The support he’s received from Star Pubs & Bars has helped him achieve his vision.

Tickets for the Great British Pub Awards can be bought by phoning 01293 846508. For more information about the event visit its dedicated website.

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