Video: watch the highlights from the latest PMA500 in Soho

By Emily Sutherland contact

- Last updated on GMT

Operators at the latest PMA500 in Soho heard from industry experts about the potential impact of Britain leaving the European Union on the sector, how pubs can do more to tap in the lucrative family market and how can manage high rents in competitive markets.

Setting the scene for delegates at the free-to-attend business club, Inception Group co-founder Charlie Gilkes told operators not to be put off high footfall areas like Soho, despite concerns over rising rents, and said the group had traditionally focussed on sites “in the right postcode, but the wrong street.”

“We’ve tended to have sites on the wrong streets which are very much destination concepts,” he said. “That’s because we haven’t been able to get the sites which commanded large premiums and the large rents- it’s a matter of beggars can’t be choosers.”

Mumsnet co-founder Carrie Longton told delegates “being a bit kind” can make all the difference to families eating and drinking out in the on-trade, many of whom still feel unwelcome.

Research carried out by Mumsnet found finding good food for parents and children topped parent’s list of concerns when eating out in pubs and Longton argued parents want healthy food, rather than just ‘beige’ food and expect pubs to be able to handle any special dietary requirements.

“If you get the kids and the adult food right, families will flood in,” she said.

Operators had the chance to make their views on Brexit heard during a panel debate chaired by Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers Kate Nicholls. The majority said they were for remaining in the EU, with 56% saying remain had their vote, 26% going for leave and 18% still yet to make up their minds.

Speaking  for the remain side, Yummy Pubco founder and British Institute of Innkeeping chairman Anthony Pender argued the pub trade needs more, rather than less, immigration to help fill the skills shortage.

However, serial sector entrepreneur Luke Johnson argued the EU stifles economic growth and has choked businesses with red tape.

“The EU promotes laws which are bad for business our standard of living.”

Finally, actor Neil Morrissey spoke about his return to the pub trade after several years away. The Men Behaving Badly​ star recently joined with Punch at the Plume of Feathers in Barlaston, Staffordshire last year and has since given the pub a £500,000 makeover. Morrissey has felt the downside of celebrity- due to interest in its famous licensee, the Plume of Feathers has received over 400 TripAdvisor reviews in just one year. 

Related topics: MA500 Business Club

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