He also said Stonegate could look beyond sites that are currently branded Scream, its established student brand, for conversion to Common Room.
A student 'home from home'
The first Common Room — which is billed as a student ‘home from home’, featuring fast Wi-Fi, craft beer and televised sport — opened last year at the Southfield in Middlesbrough.
“It was the perfect site to do,” said Smith. “It was almost on campus. What we tried to do was build a business where people visit multiple times a day, so they almost use it like a common room.
“They might come in the morning, drink coffee, do some work, come back at lunchtime, have a sandwich and a soft drink, then they might come at night, watch sport, have a beer. ”
He said sales at the Southfield have grown 60% post-conversion, “on what was a terrific site anyway”.
The next sites to be converted to the format, the Library in Leeds, West Yorkshire, and the Cavendish in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, which both opened in mid-January, have “gone off like trains”, Smith said.
“We’re looking to do a handful more at Easter. By the end of the summer we would expect to have another dozen [in addition to the three]. They are phenomenally successful.”
Conversions to date have been from existing Scream sites. Smith said: “I think the success and the confidence that the first three have given us means we do feel as though it’s something we should look at further than the Scream estate.”