Peach Pub Company, the innovative food-led multiple retailer, has signed up for its seventh property - the Old Mill, Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, a former Chef & Brewer pub. The Spirit-managed pub is being converted to lease by Punch.
Peach, which has paid a premium of just under £100,000 for the site, operates a unique "pod" management system where it recruits partners to run pairs of pubs. This allows new partners to benefit from Peach's experience while Peach benefits from focused management at each new pair of pubs. The company's pubs, mostly pubco-leased sites, average well over £20,000 a week in takings. Peach was founded by Lee Cash and Hamish Stoddart, who operate pubs in Stratford, Warwick, Oxford and Witney. Their first partner, Andrew Coath, runs two pubs in Milton Keynes. Now they have recruited a second budding entrepreneur to help expand the group.
Alan Turtill, ex-operations manager at Kensington Roof Gardens, joined Peach in September. The Old Mill is his first property. He said: "The risks that you take by going into business on your own are immense. Lee and Hamish have already shown me, in the short time I have been part of the company, that we are heading for a great future.
"The Mill is going to be my first site but I am actively looking for my second." A total of £300,000 will be spent refurbishing the Old Mill. Peach is currently looking for more partners with a food background to expand the company.
Stoddart said: "It's an opportunity for restaurant, food & beverage and chef managers to break into the gastropub world - it's a safer and cheaper way of starting your own business." Peach has expanded largely through pubco leases - it has two other Greene King and two other Punch leases.
How it works:
Peach forms a separate joint venture company with each partner, designed around the kind of business they want to run, with the shareholding dependent on the amount of cash they have to invest. Peach helps by finding the property, providing the majority of the funding and guaranteeing a salary. New pubs feature input from the Peach team on design, food principles and systems, and Peach will provide financial management, purchasing, marketing and management support. Stoddart said: "This isn't a franchise, it's a partnership. We believe in sharing and being part of a team. Our partners are business leaders in their own right but with all the support they need to grow a business successfully. Our aim is for each partner to have two or three locations and, three years after starting, to have a great work-life balance and be earning £100k to £150k. We're not aiming to sell, but to sit round a table with six or seven equals who are successful restaurant entrepreneurs in their own right."
Andrew Coath came on board in January 2005, with the Swan, at Salford, near Milton Keynes. After just six months, he was ready to take on a second pub, the Black Horse, at nearby Woburn. He is now turning over well in excess of £2m and showing a handsome profit. Coath said: "My background is in five-star hotels and convention centres but by 2004, I was ready to do my own thing. I knew Lee from my time at Malmaison, in Birmingham, when he ran Le Petit Blanc. We shared the same standards, the same ideals and Peach was a natural fit. Lee and Hamish are experts at all the stuff I was nervous about when I wanted to go on my own - finance, design, launch marketing, choosing the right site. I haven't regretted it - in fact, I'm looking for a third freehold site, ideally with accommodation."