'Our aim is to open at least 15 to 20 new sites over the next three years'

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

Top brass: Mark Derry is proud of the company’s strength
Top brass: Mark Derry is proud of the company’s strength

Related tags Brasserie blanc Public house Restaurant

Expansion is never far from the minds of the team at Brasserie Bar Co – and it will be looking to move past its current total of 20 UK sites soon.

Brasserie Bar Co has two core formats – Brasserie Blanc, the French brasserie business inspired by Raymond Blanc and the White Brasserie Company, a pub dining business blending Brasserie Blanc in local areas in the south of England.

The business has a settled and proven management team charged with expanding the group. The group combines knowledge and experience from backgrounds in operations, management, property and finance within the retail hospitality space.

The business opened its first two White Brasserie sites, both Ei Group leases, in 2010 – the King’s Head, in Teddington, south-west London, and the Queen’s Head, in Weybridge, Surrey. Brasserie Bar Co announced it was set to open its 20th White Brasserie site in October last year. The venue is on the high street in Prestbury, Gloucestershire.

The former Mitchells & Butlers Crown Carveries site follows openings in Horsham, West Sussex, and Highcliffe in Dorset.

Chief executive and chairman Mark Derry told The Morning Advertiser​’s sister title MCA ​its pubs business was performing strongly and the company was hitting budget targets.

He also said while spend was holding up, the business had noted a shift in visits towards to the weekend as the early week visits are the first to slow when times are tough.

Derry also said with the debt and transactional markets tough, it is about ensuring they have the best business possible.


Financing gained

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Derry was a co-founder of Loch Fyne and so was well versed in some parts of the pub sector. He took over the role as executive chairman from Ian Edward in 2018.

In 2014, the business secured £13.5m of new funding to support expansion and at the time, planned to use the cash from ESO Capital Group to develop the White Brasserie pub concept.

At the time, Derry said: “Our aim is to open at least 15 to 20 new sites over the next three years of which, pubs are the primary focus.

“We are bullish about the potential for our pubs and we are actively looking for new sites that we can develop.

“Now we have new finance in place, we want to work with pub owners in co-investment opportunity. We both invest in developing the site and we offer the owner a proportion of turnover in rent.”

Derry went on to say that at least 85% of the 20 sites the group was looking for would be inside the M25.

He said this meant a different version of the traditional lease agreement was key to the company’s success in its new marketplace.

Following the investment, the company announced the Hare in Harrow Weald, Middlesex, was set to join the group in the summer of 2014. Derry added: “­The ESO funding enables us to roll out our successful pub brand and the Hare is the first step in growing our portfolio. We are con‑ dent the Hare will offer fantastic quality food in a relaxed, home-from-home environment.”

Brasserie Bar Co then announced it would be opening the British Queen in Orpington, Kent, and the Sun Inn, Chobham, Surrey, in 2014.

Derry revealed the basis of the business is a pub offering brasserie-style food, using skills and knowledge developed in Brasserie Blanc with a significant drinks-led element.

He added: “We believe transferring our skill for running pro‑ table premium casual-dining restaurants is the key to success with the pubs, which we think have considerable growth opportunities.”

­The group reported positive results in the 12 months to July 2017 with turnover up by almost 14% to £46.8m, an increase of £5.7m on the previous year.

Earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) from sites rose by 23.7% to £7.3m – up £1.4m on the previous year (after adjusting prior year EBITDA).


Sales records broken

In May 2017, the group completed a re-financing with OakNorth Bank providing senior debt and a capital expenditure facility to continue steady expansion.

On those results, Derry said: “In a difficult year for the licensed retail sector, we are delighted to report another period of considerable achievement.

We served some 1.6m guests, collected 40,000 pieces of feedback with an average score of nine out of 10 and saw eight sites breaking sales records. Financing from OakNorth Bank has enabled our roll-out plans to open 24 new sites in the next five years. We look forward to growing our estate and our team despite industry challenges.”

­This followed a strong 2016 of results too with reported turnover for the group up 10.2% from £37m to £41m with double digit like-for-like growth in the estate.

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