Paul Baker

Related tags Business Economics Conservatism

Paul Baker, managing director, Thwaites Corporate goal for the year? Our long-term focus has always been on investment in our people, pubs and brands...

Paul Baker, managing director, Thwaites

Corporate goal for the year?

Our long-term focus has always been on investment in our people, pubs and brands as we know this is the way to deliver profit and asset growth.

Any opportunity to grow your business?

Strong opportunities for growth still exist if you have the right offer for the right market - something we have demonstrated recently with a £2m investment in the Penny Street Bridge, a Lancaster bar and hotel. This is a classic example of success through targeting; that is something that we will focus on for all our existing businesses throughout the year.

If there is a downturn in the economy, how bad is it going to get?

There are certainly several factors combining to suggest that the opening quarter of 2008 will be a tough challenge, to say the least. In our experience, difficult times mean the consumer becomes even more discerning about where and how he spends his money.

Where's the light at the end of the tunnel?

Consumer confidence is always the pivotal point in recovering from a downturn, but there are some positive case studies to draw on with regard to the impact of the smoking ban. The Irish market suffered for a period, but did show recovery in the longer term.

If political pressure increases, what's our best form of defence?

We have to demonstrate that we are a key part of the solution and not the problem. Recently, the drinks industry has been fire fighting to defend its reputation and not managed to communicate key points about the positive role it can play. The industry needs to be more prepared so that it can take the lead on these issues, rather than dealing with individual criticisms on a reactionary basis.

Biggest challenge your business faces?

This is intrinsically linked to the last question. We have to address the negativity surrounding alcohol and its UK retailing, and make people aware of all the measures that we are taking to deal with this in a responsible way.

Favourite quotation or business adage?

Business goes where it's invited. We feel we have our invitation spot on.

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