Made up of premium food-led pubs initially in city centres, the first to open under the collection is the Clerk & Well on Clerkenwell Road, which was previously in the leased division, and has undergone a significant refurbishment.
The proposition was partly inspired by Hippo Inns, which Stonegate acquired the remaining 25% earlier this year, with Hippo’s executive chef Lee McMullen helping with menu development.
The launch of the division, which will be overseen by manage MD Helen Charlesworth, comes after the company identified a gap in its premium food offer.
Nuance and originality
The menu features “pub classics with a twist”, while GMs will work with suppliers on a curated gin offering.
The aim is for each pub to have “nuance and originality”, which some subtle brand cues, such as doorknocker across the sites.
The new division allows Stonegate to continue to follow its mantra of finding the right format for the right location across its large estate.
Identification of potential sites will be heavily data driven in terms of examining demographics in a particular area.
James Metcalfe, director of marketing – insight and innovation at Stonegate, said: “In terms of innovation, we had a gap in premium food. Obviously, there have been developments with bringing the Hippo business into Stonegate, and we’ve learned a huge amount from them.
“[The Clerk & Well] is the first fully invested site in the premium division, so a new chapter for Stonegate.
“It will still be very much a pub offer at heart, that’s what we do best. We won’t stretch too far into the restaurant territory.
“The intention is to keep a level of agility on the menu, which will be printed onsite in the morning, and so can flex extent according to availability or season - obviously still within the bounds of a managed business, as there is some structure that needs to stay in place.”
“The ambition would be that each of the site, looking probably in central London at first, will have a level of nuance and originality.”