Managed Pub Summit

PoundPubs takes franchising route

By Oli Gross

- Last updated on GMT

PoundPubs takes franchising route

Related tags Franchising

The owner of no-frills brand PoundPub says he is ready to expand his franchise offer and is targeting underperforming freehold pubs.

Speaking to the Publican’s Morning Advertiser​ at last week’s Managed Pub Summit in London, Mike Wardell said he hopes to have the first franchised site open by the end of the year, with 10 more in the following 18 months.

Wardell began transforming unprofitable pubs into PoundPubs last year. The first site in Stockton-on-Tees was soon followed by two others in Greater Manchester, with a fourth opening in Liverpool, earlier this year.

In April, the company signed a deal with Carlsberg allowing it to screen BT Sport in all outlets and last month secured a deal with ABInBev that sees pints of Becks Vier, Stella 4, Stella Cidre and Boddingtons priced at £1.50 a pint alongside existing staples Carlsberg and Tetley Smooth.

With drinks deals now in place, Wardell said he was in a position to launch a franchise offer, focusing on freeholders whose pubs are underperforming.

The company has employees dedicated to managing the franchised pubs’ finan-ces, purchasing, branding, marketing and staffing. “Early interest has been really positive,” he said.

Wardell brushed off claims that the cheap no-frills offer encourages excessive drinking leading to antisocial behaviour.

“Every time a PoundPub opens some people are sceptical. As a company we are a responsible retailer. We’ve proved a lot of the critics wrong; they said there would be people rolling around the streets drunk, but that’s certainly not the case,” he said.

“What we have found is that our regular customers feel it’s their pub. If there is any trouble they look after the pub, they don’t want to lose it as a PoundPub. It’s still a traditional boozer.”
Rigorous cost management across the board and “keeping things simple” has been key to success so far.

Wardell said he had ambitions to move further south, and insisted the business model could still work in areas with higher rents.

He has received requests to open PoundPubs from all over the country. “I’ve had a lot of requests from London but I don’t think we’ll be opening there any time soon,” Wardell said.

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