Nuttall said that while the Angel Inn in Lichfield, Staffordshire, had proved “an outstanding success”, the other trial at the Lower Chequer in Sandbach,
East Cheshire, had been “a disappointment”.
He told M&C Report: “It’s made us think again about which areas this is going to work in because we were quite surprised at the strength of the reaction from the locals at Sandbach. I think it shows that although we in the industry like to think craft beer is a very established trend, it hasn’t translated to every part of the country.”
He said future Craft Beer Bars would focus on “larger towns, where there is a slightly more affluent and, for want of a better word, sophisticated, market”.
He added: “The audience for craft beer is quite cynical of the mainstream so they don’t want to see the familiar big brands on the bar. What we found in Sandbach was completely the opposite. People were coming in and not seeing anything familiar on the bar, so they were walking out. It’s quite a challenge to get that balance right.”
Nuttall said the company would now seek to “soften” the emphasis on craft beer at the Lower Chequer and re-introduce ‘big name’ lagers.
He said the company was carrying out rolling refurbishment projects across the 38 core sites of its 43-strong estate, with spend increasing from an average of £120,000 to £250,000.
The company’s next site would be the Price of Wales in Congleton, East Cheshire, where they have exchanged contracts. The next big refurbishment will be the New Inn, Newport, Shropshire.