MA500

Choosing the wrong sites is a big mistake operators make

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

Panel discussion: operators shared their mistakes and how they overcame them
Panel discussion: operators shared their mistakes and how they overcame them

Related tags: Pubs

Operators looking to expand their business need to ensure they have done enough research into areas and venues, delegates at today’s (13 February) MA500 conference heard.

Three operators informed the audience on their biggest mistakes and how they learnt from them at the Hilton London Tower Bridge hotel.

Yummy Pubs boss Tim Foster said: “My biggest mistake is losing a s**t tonne of money by choosing the wrong sites. This has been our Achilles’ heel.

“We looked at 100 sites before we bought the Wiremill in Felbridge, Lingfield, Surrey. When we bought the Clarence (in Stoke Newington, north London), we visited it twice.

“We were growing at a rapid pace and didn’t have time to look at it. For us, our model and how we were evolving, we couldn’t give it the time and attention it needed.”

Right pub, right location

Red Mist Leisure managing director and British Institute of Innkeeping chair Mark Robson echoed Foster’s comments on mistakes made when expanding the business’s portfolio with new venues.

He added: “I’ve not met a multiple operator yet that hasn’t got or had a venue in their estate that they haven’t got wrong.

“The right pub in the right location is critical so ensure you do your homework properly and have a plan. When I started, I didn’t. I opened too many tied pubs too quickly and nearly got my fingers burnt.”

Fellow multiple operator Brian Whiting of Whiting & Hammond outlined how, five years ago, the business made a mistake involving an insurance company, which has been an ongoing issue.

In-depth thinking

He said: “The big [mistake] was in 2015 when we used a broker for insurance across our eight sites. We trusted them and they came back with a quote from a company. We had used them a year before but someone said ‘be careful as there’s a rumour they could be in trouble’.

“We went back to the broker and asked for another quote but they stood by it. Fast forward two years and the insurance company went bust. We had two outstanding claims, the last of which was settled in October last year.”

Whiting also advised operators to remember things can happen and they shouldn’t be naïve to think they can’t.

Related topics: MA500 Business Club

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