North eyes London and Birmingham openings

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

Accolade received: North was awarded Best Brewing Pub Company at the 2022 Publican Awards
Accolade received: North was awarded Best Brewing Pub Company at the 2022 Publican Awards

Related tags Publican awards Events Multi-site pub operators Beer

Leeds-based operator and brewery North Bar/North Brew Co is looking to open sites in London and Birmingham, one of the co-founders told The Morning Advertiser.

North retained the title of Best Brewing Pub Company​ at this year’s Publican Awards with judges lauding the firm’s forward planning, green credentials and staff welfare.

Founder and director John Gyngell, who runs the business with Christian Townsley, also revealed the plans to expand in the future.

Furthermore, Gyngell reflected on the impact of the Omicron variant prior to Christmas and how trade has been since then.

Hardest part

North sites:

  • North Bar, Leeds
  • North Taproom: Sovereign Street, Leeds
  • Field Recordings, Sheepscar, Leeds
  • Springwell, Meanwood
  • North Bar Harrogate
  • Alfred, Meanwood
  • Further North, Chapel Allerton
  • Preston, Oakwood
  • North Bar Social, Otley

He said: “It's not been easy. November and December were a real kick in the teeth. It was a kind of lockdown by stealth on us so we didn't get [the] bounce back and Leeds has been pretty slow to build back up.

“I actually weirdly think kind of the past four or five months been the hardest bit of the pandemic. [Now], it feels like it's getting there, now the weather getting better, the clocks change.

“But events are coming back. So you know, we were back to that stage where we're going to festivals every weekend and it feels like Leeds is busy again. It feels like we're emerging but it's been tough.”

While cost pressures are impacting the business, this is alongside ongoing staffing issues, which Gyngell highlighted as a one of the biggest challenges for them currently.

“Staffing continues to be a challenge. Getting great people. We're ahead of the curve in terms of most places, but we're still struggling,” he said.

“We lost a lot of people to Covid and the uncertainty. The greatest challenge has been motivating the team and getting just getting the team back up and out there.”

Big challenge

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In addition, the business has also found finding the right funding for it has been an obstacle to overcome.

Gyngell added: “The past few months has been hard. When you've been hit hard, it's hard for us to come in and motivate everyone else.

“We've had the additional challenge of funding for various bars, etc and finding funding right now is a challenge too.

“I'd actually say that it's probably biggest problems access to funding because we found that challenge because [out] bottom line was knackered by December.”

However, the business is still looking to the future. As well as possible sites in London and Manchester, the North brand could be going even further afield with its venues.

“It's wherever we need to do a bar. [Maybe] Manchester, another one in Leeds centre, maybe, Sheffield, we're looking at and then yeah, see where the opportunities arise. [Maybe] Edinburgh!”

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