That's the Spirit

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Spirit Group is focused on making itself ready for a possible flotation next year. The process began with the sale of Premier Lodge and will include...

Spirit Group is focused on making itself ready for a possible flotation next year. The process began with the sale of Premier Lodge and will include the sale of 350 smaller pubs. Andrew Knight, commercial director of Spirit, comments: "We are continually changing and with a fast-moving retail operation, you wouldn't expect anything else but change." Knight continues: "We are not looking to drive numbers, but quality. Although there are cost pressures, there are also benefits of scale in purchasing power. We have got to be much more like a grocery retailer and build systems to handle the changes." He thinks streamlining supply chains is the next step. "The innovation shown in grocery retailing is what we need in the pub industry. If we can deliver it really well, there is tremendous potential for growth." He feels the managed sector is consolidating and that, in a couple of years, there will be fewer shake-ups within the industry, "although, there will always be pockets of pubs added or subtracted from the managed estates." One of the strengths of Spirit with the addition of the S&N Retail is its food sales, now accounting for 31% of total turnover ­ one of the highest percentages in the industry. Knight confirms Spirit's food offering will be expanded. "It's a real opportunity, but you have got to do it very well. Getting the price-versus-quality equation right is very important ­ not every outlet has customers that want a superb food offering made from fresh produce. There are plenty of places where customers don't want to pay more than £4 for their steak and chips." Knight has no concerns about competition over food reaching saturation point. "There is so much growth out there. Demand will outstrip supply, but you can't afford to be average." Knight says Spirit's plans include "driving out 2-4-1,Chef & Brewer and Barras throughoutthe estate".

Related topics: Spirits & Cocktails

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