Maintaining price point key for gastropubs’ future

By Emily Hawkins contact

- Last updated on GMT

Peach of a plan: Hamish Stoddart wants to keep a healthy work-life balance for staff
Peach of a plan: Hamish Stoddart wants to keep a healthy work-life balance for staff

Related tags: Gastro pub

Peach Pubs managing director Hamish Stoddart said maintaining accessible prices and competing against the lure of the stay-at-home economy are the biggest challenges for gastropubs.

Stoddart spoke to The Morning Advertiser​ about the challenge of wanting to promote a healthy work-life culture while also fighting to not push price points up. 

Peach was one of three pub companies to be included in the top 50 companies on The Sunday Times​ Best Companies to Work For 2019 list.

The director said: “The economics of being a gastropub company is quite hard in that you have got to keep your price point accessible and yet we do strongly believe in keeping our work-life balance in a sensible place for the team. 

“Making that all hang together is challenging because you have got the natural headwinds on price points for the guest – in theory you should be putting the price up.”

He added: “What we're doing at Peach is working on ways to achieve that by working together with our chefs and our teams, making ourselves more efficient without them working crazily.” 

“That's a real challenge, it is possible but hard.”

Good money

The company focuses on ensuring staff have ample opportunities to have a home and family life, Stoddart said.

He added: “One of our senior chefs is earning £40,000, plus is on a package of towards £50,000. 

“There are very few jobs where as 30-year-old you can earn that money.

“Yes, it is unsociable hours. But there are a lot of people who love it and enjoy it.

“It does start as a minimum wage role but that doesn't mean a good chef can't, very quickly, earn very good money.”

Recruitment post-Brexit is a concern for the company, which employs 72 European members of staff, but Stoddart thinks his pubs will be able to cope relatively well in comparison to others in the sector.

He explained: “Many of them [Peach’s European staff members] have got residency rights, etc. To have 72 from a total of 500 staff is not as extreme as some of the inner London pubs or restaurants. I think we will be OK. 

“It will send certainly chef wages up over time, they will steadily increase as the Europeans stop coming or slow.”

The so-called ‘battle against the sofa’ is a salient issue for Peach but Stoddart said the pubco’s approach was to focus on offering a truly distinct ‘real life experience’ to draw people out of the house.

He said: “We're saying come for a different experience at the pub, have a real-life experience for chatting. Being together is more important than a screen and a pizza or some noodles.”

Experience-focus 

Consistently, excellent pub food was the only way to compete against the likes of Deliveroo and UberEats, Stoddart added.

He said: “When you're competing with eat-ins or delivery-ins or cookery-ins, you have to create an experience, and you do that by having a very, very good team.”

The 19-site strong company recently disposed several sites to reduce its debt and is now slowly looking ahead to future expansion plans.

Stoddart described expansion visions as “steady”, explaining: “We don't have any one image at the moment. We will carry on looking [for new sites] but there is nothing we can talk about at the moment.”

Related topics: Other operators

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