Marston's eyes growth for Pitcher & Piano brand

By John Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

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Marston's is looking to expand the Pitcher & Piano brand
Marston's is looking to expand the Pitcher & Piano brand
Colin Sadler, managing director of Marstons’ premium pub division Revere, has told the Publican's Morning Advertiser sister title M&C Report he hopes to have another new site for Pitcher & Piano secured this year

The first new Pitcher & Piano in five years opened in Hitchin, Hertfordshire , and Sadler said he hoped to adopt some of the elements there for the rest of the 21-strong brand.

The Hitchin site was converted from Marstons’ Que Pasa brand but Sadler said new Pitcher & Pianos are likely to be acquisitions.

“The Marston’s acquisitions team are currently looking for suitable sites for Pitcher & Piano,” he said.

“We will hope for this year [when an acquisition is made]. There’s no specific growth target for Pitcher & Piano. It’s a good thing for us that there’s no specific target. We will take the right site in the right town. We can be picky.”

Pitcher & Piano operates in cities including Birmingham, Bristol and Newcastle and smaller towns, and Sadler said: “We are not tied to enter cities or towns, we will do both.”

Marston’s has been repositioning Pitcher & Piano since 2009 away from late-night trade towards the after work market. Typical investments were £70,000 to £100,000 per site.

“The day of spending £500,000-£600,000 just on refurbs are long gone. We’ve been delivering strong returns on the principle of little and often.”

Recent “tweaks” have included increasing the number of draught products on offer from six to 12 introducing cask ale (not just Marston’s beers; Revere has a free reign over the products it stocks).

Changes at Hitchin include responding to “more and more demands for more interesting products”, said Sadler. Beers on offer include Vedett extra blond, Brooklyn Lager and Löwenbräu.

At least one locally brewed beer is offered, and the cocktail list has been updated.

“We will use the learnings from Hitchin to roll out to the rest of the brand,” said Sadler.

The new food menu includes an improved range, he said, with items such as hanging chicken skewers and chili hot dogs. The burger range has been enhanced and Sadler said they are as good as those in the new wave of London burger chains such as Honest Burger.

Six sites have opened so far under the Revere premium unbranded banner. A further four to five are earmarked for next year with c£3m earmarked for investments, Sadler said.

He said a key learning so far from Revere has been the success of the pizza offer, which has been retro fitted at two Revere pubs. This option is “more accessible” than the steak focus, he said, which is less popular on quieter times like Monday evenings and daytime.

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