Project Update 9: Bearing Fruit

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: White hart, Alcoholic beverage, Cask ale

The White Hart has been faring well over the past month - and our category champions have praised licensees Simon Tanner and Carlos Alfaro for their...

The White Hart has been faring well over the past month - and our category champions have praised licensees Simon Tanner and Carlos Alfaro for their proactive approach.

Diageo training, content and development manager Alex Percival summarises the positive rapport developed between Sell More, Save More's industry experts and the White Hart: "The key to a successful business in the on-trade is a proactive licensee.

"Carlos and Simon are not only very receptive to our recommendations but also have many innovative ideas of their own."

With the advice and help of the category champions being brought to bear, the pub has been "monster busy", says Simon. An Irish-themed food night, one of a series of 'Taste of the World' events organised by the pub, was held at the end of October and saw the White Hart fully booked for food.

Simon and Carlos also found success during the Rugby World Cup in October, despite being situated close to a rugby club and a sports bar. The licensees offered pre-ordering of food to guarantee it would be served before the start of matches, and had groups of 20 customers eating in the bar, where the TV screen is located, during some of the games.

They designed their food-led offer so it would be different from that of their rugby rivals. "They have their core audience and we have ours," says Simon.

With all this going on, it is no surprise that the White Hart's planned redevelopment has been postponed.

It was originally hoped that structural work and refurbishment of the interior could take place before a relaunch this month. However, the work has now had to be pushed back, with the relaunch scheduled for late February.

It will be split into two phases. A partition wall - which currently splits the pub into a dining and bar area, an approach the licensees and category champions agree is not conducive to a 'pubby' feel - is being partially removed this month.

The pub will then trade over Christmas before finer detailed work takes place in the new year.

"There was no way we could pull everything together for November," explains Simon. "So we are going to sneak in the big work first, allowing us to keep the bar open and maintain trade as much as possible over the crucial Christmas period. Then we will get the rest done."

DRINKS

The drinks category champions have been working with the White Hart to improve the range and quality at its bar. Diageo has introduced a number of brands with the intention of trading customers up to them, a tactic barstaff have never used at the pub before. The drinks giant's representatives are also working on a signature drinks range with Simon and Carlos.

The champions believe that although the licensees are making their pub more traditional, that image can still fit with premium drinks. "You can definitely be a pub but still be premium," says Chris Bull, head of on-trade category development at InBev. "There's an opportunity to 'premiumise' the brand range and have those quality cues, enhancing the atmosphere."

As such, InBev is to introduce new beers including Peeterman Artois and Beck's Vier ahead of the relaunch.

It is a message wholesaler WaverleyTBS also believes in, telling Simon and Carlos that it is a false economy to choose wine based on price alone. Waverley TBS sales development manager Joanne Taylor says: "A wine list which focuses on quality as well as range and price actually improves profitability. Customers begin to drink better-quality wines and enjoy their experience much more. This inevitably brings them back to the outlet to enjoy those wines again.

"If Carlos looks at cash margin opportunities, he may well see a higher turnover of wines overall."

BEER MONITORING

The Brulines draught beer monitoring equipment installed in the White Hart's cellar has demonstrated the growth in beer sales since the start of the project (see graph), has informed decisions on the drinks range, and has cut down on wastage.

The licensees have had Tetley's Smoothflow removed after Brulines data demonstrated sales of the brand were lagging behind those of other beers. It was difficult to get enough throughput to guarantee its quality.

Brulines brand quality monitoring account manager Peter Cockerill says: "There was an opportunity to rationalise the range. Smoothflow was not earning its keep. Getting rid of it will promote the pub's cask ale, which will support the premium message the pub is going for."

Brulines also allows Carlos to identify when beer is fobbing, something he believes has allowed him to put a stop to the wastage that accounted for 'two or three per cent' of the White Hart's beer volumes. He also says that he has been using the data to pin pinpoint staff pouring beer badly and wastefully, and has reacted by holding training sessions for these individuals.

FOOD

A new menu, developed with food champion Brakes, will be introduced at the end of November. Previously, the pub's food offering had been split into a restaurant menu and a bar menu. The new one pulls the best parts of each together into one menu. As well as a menu that has lowered the prices and features pub classics such as steak and ale pie, there is also a specials board drawn partly from dishes introduced via the pub's 'Taste of the World' themed nights.

At the start of the Sell More, Save More project, the White Hart's restaurant concept was not working, and the licensees agreed with the champions that a more conventional pub concept was needed.

This was confirmed by a questionnaire that Carlos and Simon recently posted in a local newspaper. It asked residents for their views on what direction the pub should take for its relaunch. According to Simon, "we could have written the responses ourselves. They perceive us as being expensive and they don't like the restaurant area."

The new menu and the new design will address these concerns.

Related topics: Other operators, Beer

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