The pubco’s maiden move into the managed sector came with the St James’ of Bermondsey, which opened on Friday (9 May).
The pub is operating under The Bermondsey Pub Company, which is registered at Enterprise’s head office in Solihull and lists chief executive Simon Townsend and financial director Neil Smith as directors.
Jason Harris, who has been recruited to head the company, said it was already looking at converting “a couple more” pubs from Enterprise’s estate within the M25, but there was no immediate target for pub numbers or template for pub types.
St James’ of Bermondsey – sited around one mile south-east of Tower Bridge – was formerly the St James Tavern, and was for sale last year for £1.1m – before Enterprise took it off the market and selected it as its first managed pub.
“It’s a traditional Victorian pub in the heart of Bermondsey, which is an up and coming area,” said Harris, formerly of SSP and JD Wetherspoon. “It was a great opportunity, albeit in need of decorative work, and we’ve brought it back to what it would have been with a six-week, £250,000 refurbishment using reclaimed furniture and floorboards – so it didn’t look too shiny and new.”
Harris recruited 10 staff to run the pub, which has a gross internal area of 5,630sq ft and trading space of 3,280sq ft plus a small garden, and pronounced himself delighted with the first weekend’s trading which “exceeded expectations”.
“What we’ve achieved is testament to what you can do with a proper pub,” he added.
The pub features a branded Pieminister counter serving hot pies from £6.50 and a range of bar snacks. And it will stock on rotation beer from each of six local craft breweries, starting with the Four Pure Brewing Company.
The pub plans to run beer festivals and meet the brewer events, starting in July.
Marketing support was provided for the opening by consultant Ashley Halliday, formerly head of marketing at JD Wetherspoon , via the website www.stjamesse16.com and the Twitter account @StJamesSE16 , which promoted the hashtag #notanotherblockofflats.
Halliday said: “It’s been a fantastic project to be involved with – changing people’s perception of this great pub with a bit of TLC.”