Tough competition in the area led the licensee of the Robin Hood pub in Leigh, Greater Manchester, Nick Bennett, to develop an affordable, high-quality, food offer, with the Sunday roast as the star attraction. Yet it’s his close working relationship with the advisors at his local Makro branch that’s helped Bennett achieve his margins and maintain a superior menu.
The publican – who took on the Punch lease almost 10 years ago – and his team of five chefs and 10 front-of-house staff are producing ‘honest’, home-cooked food. It’s his Sunday roast, though, that the pub is locally known for, with almost 200 sold each week, he says.
But why does Bennett’s Sunday roast receive so much attention? The licensee explains: “When I took on the pub I wanted customers to be able to have a Sunday roast every day of the week, but for it to be just as good on a Monday or a Thursday as it is on a Sunday.”
Bennett, who has owned food-led cafés and bistros for decades, has bought from Booker and Booker-owned stores such as Makro for the past 20 years, he says, adding that achieving the fine line between quality and affordable prices in his pub is down to working closely with the team at Makro Manchester.
‘Compete with bigger pub chains’
“We’re in a market place where we have to compete with the bigger pub chains on price, but we’re doing it with a higher-quality offer to make us more appealing to customers,” says Bennett.
“We get our meat from Makro and for the roast beef dinners it’s topside. It’s very consistent, which is important. The butchers from our local Makro store will call us on a Monday to ask what we need, they will trim the meat to our specification and it will be delivered by Wednesday. We also find that Booker’s and Makro’s Lock Down price scheme is keeping our prices and GP steady.”
Having the meat ready-trimmed from the butchers means each cut is delivered to Bennett and his team to their exact requirements, so costs and efficiencies are better controlled. It also allows him to sell a roast dinner at £6.95 like his competitors, but with a GP of £4.00.
“We do two options for a roast, standard, and double-the-meat,” he explains. “We have four meats on at all times of the week – gammon, pork, turkey and beef. If you double the size, then you pay an extra £1.70 and we make an extra 50p GP on that.”
The Yorkshire puddings used on the menu are Booker’s own and cost just 11p per pudding, while Bennett uses the best potatoes at £11.99/kg for mash and roasties, as well as a range of other seasonal vegetables from Makro, which are freshly peeled, chopped and cooked in the pub.
Although the Robin Hood is known for its roast dinners and the dish is a key focus for the site, Bennett has an extensive menu with more than 90% of his ingredients sourced from Makro.
Pork and blackpudding sausages with mustard mash and gravy are a recent addition to the menu and, says Bennett, shows that Booker and Makro are able to keep things exciting for him and his customers.
‘Popular ever since’
“The sausages came into the store one Monday and we had them that afternoon on the specials board. I had the dish for lunch and shared it with the customers and they have been popular ever since.
“We bought two trays of them first and we got 30 portions of three sausages per plate out of those two packs, which we sell at £4.95 with a GP of £4.70”
But those thinking Bennett is content with his current menu and sales of 1,500 dishes a week, that’s not the case. The publican is currently working with Makro Manchester area manager Avril McGill to further refine the menu, generate better GPs and to create a range of dishes for workers that take 10–15 minutes to cook and serve.
“We’re working with Avril to increase our GP because we’re not getting what we want at the moment. We believe we can get a little bit more. We want to create a mid-week lunch menu that’s profitable and quick for workers to come in and eat.”
This piece was sponsored by Makro and is part of a series of paid-for features about Booker’s and Makro’s customers