Mitchells & Butlers has made substantial progress in converting 50 of its managed pubs to new-style leased franchise agreements. The company has let 18 pubs and agreed deals for another 20 where it believes the switch will give the outlets a new trading life. Franchise development director Peter Thomas said the pubs had attracted quality operators many of whom already had impressive track records in the trade. "We are very happy with the quality of licensee we have managed to attract and delighted with the speed in which this initiative has taken off. We have signed up some very impressive operators which should ensure the trading fortunes of these houses are quickly revitalised," he said. M&B's franchise trading deal is designed to revive pubs which it admits have "lost the plot" under direct management. "They are all in need of a boost which we feel they will get under the control of entrepreneur operators," he said. "A number of the new franchisees have already proved their ability in the pub-gastro field and together with the high level of back-up we can give each operator, look forward to these pubs being turned round." l M&B's gastro-pub foray, City, p14 Pair aim to set Old Sparrow Hawk soaring The latest franchise agreement will see new operators John Kisbey and Steve Turner take over the Old Sparrow Hawk at Fence near Burnley in Lancashire. The two business partners already run the Roebuck at Mobberley, Cheshire, which in four years has acquired an enviable reputation and is now featured in both the Good Pub Guide and the Good Beer Guide. Kisbey said: "We are looking forward to taking on what is a very well-known pub and returning the place to its former glory. We will be employing real chefs cooking real food, but also hope to revive the beer trade with four different cask ales." The new franchise deal will offer operators lease agreements allied to a 5% of turnover annual franchise fee to reflect higher-than-average infrastructure and levels of company support. Former managers of the pubs involved are being found alternative jobs within the Mitchells & Butlers estate.