New sites in 2018
- Belle Vue, Clapham, London
- Bow Street Tavern, Covent Garden, London
- Tell Your Friends, Parsons Green, London
- Old Ticket Office, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire
- Pontcanna Inn, Cardiff
- Travellers Friend, Woodford Green, London
- Jam Tree, Clapham and Chelsea, London (two sister leasehold sites)
- Brighton Beach Club, Brighton, East Sussex
- Old Bicycle Shed, Oxford, Oxfordshire
- Chapel 1877, Cardiff
According to City Pub Group’s latest trading statement, which revealed that the group grew from 33 to 44 sites in 2018 and turned a £2m profit, the Hoste in Burnham Market is a 53-bedroom site with spa, cinema and gym was last year named in the top 10 country hotels in the UK by The Guardian.
It will be the largest number of bedrooms in any City Pub Group venue.
Asked whether or not the acquisition represented a change in strategy for City Pub Group, executive chairman Clive Watson explained: "Not necessarily. The Hoste is an iconic site, in an iconic location 40 minutes’ drive from Norwich where we've got two pubs already. It's not out there on its own.
“We do want to increase our room revenue and it seemed like a leap into achieving that.
“We're not going to be going into what I'd call the ‘country hotel market’.”
A bit of a one-off
“The Hoste is really a country pub for city folk,” Watson added. “A lot of people get out there from London, Cambridge, Norwich and Birmingham, places like that.
“It’s a little bit of a one-off but it's close to where we already are and a site that I believe has lots of potential going forwards.
“It’s making over £4m revenue as we speak and I'm hoping we can get that going north fairly quickly.
“It’s quality and I think it adds to the overall quality of our portfolio. We've got the best quality managed pub division in the market in terms of location, in terms of freeholds, and the Hoste adds to all of that."
With 20 operational sites in London, three in Brighton, nine in Cambridge and others further afield in cities such as Exeter, Bristol and Winchester, the Hoste adds to one of City Pub Group’s ‘clusters’ of pubs in Norfolk – typical of the group’s geographical strategy if not the type of venue it usually acquires.
“We’ve already got two sites in Norwich, the Hoste is only 40 minutes away,” Watson adds. “Building up those clusters allows us to share our expertise and allows us to move staff around. If you've only got one site in a city there’s not really much chance of promotion but by having clusters you can promote staff from one site to another, up through the business.”
It’s a strategy that Watson believes also lends itself to developing a diverse portfolio. “We’re going to have nine sites in Cambridge – you can’t have nine sites that are all the same,” he says.
“Wetherspoon had three and had to close one down. All of our sites are very different, we don't have a model that we stamp into the site, we give managers the entrepreneurial spirit to run their pubs as they like so that they’re all very different – you wouldn't know that some of our pubs are within 100 yards of each other because they’re so different.
“You build up local expertise, you build up local marketing, you curate promotion opportunities for staff – so when you’re opening a new place you can say to the assistant manager of one pub ‘you've done a really good job there, you can be the new manager of our new opportunity’. You're building up that local know-how.”
Discussing The City Pub Group’s performance, Watson added: “Our sales growth last year was 22%. In the weeks this year, it’s 36% and we've now got six big sites to open during the course of 2019 so that sales growth will continue to accelerate – that's what makes me feel very chuffed with not necessarily just these results but the future.”
To find out more about pubs for sale, lease and tenancy visit our property site.