A look into Berkeley Inns

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

Big projects: Berkeley Inns has a plan of renovating under performing sites in the Midlands
Big projects: Berkeley Inns has a plan of renovating under performing sites in the Midlands
Derbyshire-based pub group Berkeley Inns has only been running for five years but, with five sites under its belt already, the business looks set to soar with its future plans

Berkeley Inns’ ethos is to target and acquire under-performing, under-invested rural and semi-rural pubs in attractive locations in the Midlands.

It also looks to create a compelling dining and entertainment experience to meet the growing demand for a quality food and drink offer in well-appointed, warm and welcoming venues.

It wants to ensure each of its venues attract repeat visits from happy customers by refreshing menus regularly, running events and investing in ongoing routine maintenance.

In 2019, the business’s revenues were around the £8m mark and for the future, it is targeting between 12 and 14 outlets trading by 2022.

Established in November 2014, Berkeley Inns had a plan of acquiring and redeveloping several prominent pubs in the Midlands.

In April 2015, it opened the Horseshoes in Ashbourne, following an extensive refurbishment. The business grew gross revenues at this site, following its investment, from less than £90,000 a year to in excess of £1m.

The kitchen is headed by top young chef Gareth Ward who, with his team, produces an ever-changing menu, using seasonal and local produce.

Site reopened

Ward started his journey with Berkeley Inns in June 2015, initially at the Horseshoes. He then oversaw the set-up of the Cock Inn when it opened.

For 17 years, prior to joining Berkeley, Ward gained extensive experience in Michelin star and other high-end environments in the Birmingham area.

In 2016, Berkeley reopened the Cock Inn, Mugginton, after a 10-year closure and a major redevelopment to convert it into a new thriving pub that serves 1,700 covers a week and running at net
revenues of more than £1.7m a year.

The pub had, prior to 2006, been a renowned landmark and following a makeover and reopening, it is now a thriving site.

Its history features the pub as part of a principal route from London to Manchester. As well as being an inn and a toll bar, the pub also housed the ‘cock horses’, hired by drivers needing extra power to pull goods up the long hill.

Early 2017 saw the acquisition of the Bluebell in Kirk Langley, followed by the Cow in Dalbury Lees, which received a major refurb and extension to turn it into a 12-bedroom boutique inn with a food and drink offer.

Some 12 months later and planning permission was put in place for a complete redevelopment of the Bluebell, which is set to take place this year and will include an extension and refit.

Plans include a high-tech kitchen in a new extension and a new dining area within a glazed orangery, aiming to complement the redesigned space in the existing building. Once completed, the property will have more than 100 inside covers plus substantial external areas.

The Bluebell will feature an artisanal and affordable offering including daily favourites with a healthy twist, pizzas, burgers, ribs and wings in an on-trend environment.

Revenue from rooms

The original Black Cow was reborn as the Cow in December 2017 following six months of intensive work. The pub currently achieves average room rates of £140 on a regular basis.

Alongside the rooms, the pub features an informal dining restaurant-bar area, stripped back in a bid to reveal the heritage and character of the original 19th century building.

Plans for 2019 with this site include increasing seating and consequently, boosting food and beverage revenues. The Cow is on target for sales of more than £800,000 this year.

The group’s latest acquisition is the Meynell Ingram Arms at Hoar Cross in Staffordshire, which was bought in November 2018. This site was closed for almost five years, however, it reopened on 10 May, after a full makeover.

With the help of two local families, the pub has been extended and undergone a major but sympathetic refit and redesign of the interior, while aiming to maintain its character.

It will be able to accommodate about 140 covers internally and a further 100 at least externally in a redesigned courtyard and garden area.

The new offering also provides casual, relaxed dining with a diverse menu including dishes such as pie and chips to fresh lobster in a bid to cater for all tastes and occasions.

The group has recently joined forces with local business Alfa Power to provide electric vehicle charging points across its estate.

Berkeley Inns MD Howard Thacker said: “We are committed to making this provision across all our sites, recognising public charging points for electric vehicles are an increasingly critical facility as greater numbers of the public make the switch to electric vehicles.

“We are able to offer greater convenience to our customers and at the same time, reduce our carbon footprint.” 

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