'Total war' - surviving 20 years in the trade

By Ed Bedington

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags MA Leaders Multi-site pub operators Utilities Beer Food Pub Mergers and acquisitions Property

Surviving 20 years in the pub trade without going backwards is no mean feat, but the founders of the Three Cheers Pub Co can look back with a real sense of achievement.

“We’ve been pretty lucky,” is the understated explanation from co-founder Nick Fox, and certainly a decision to fix long term energy bills ahead of the crisis is one just example, but it’s certainly been more than luck which has seen Fox and his two fellow founders, Mark Reynolds and Tom Peake, build a nine-strong group of first rate pubs.

It’s not been an easy run either, and the early days were challenging. “Total war is one metaphor I have for it, you’ve got to throw everything at it,” says Peake.

Slow but steady has been a key factor for the trio’s success, who perhaps regret not growing faster, but unlike other operators, they’ve not walked away from any of their sites.

It comes from being cautious, says Peake, while Reynolds adds: “We work at sites, we don’t give up.”

And what has changed in the time they’ve been working? Reynolds says that’s the beauty of pubs, not a lot does change. “The dial hasn’t moved that much,” he says. “We’re still doing a burger, still doing pies, and where people were once drinking Stella, they’re now drinking Moretti.”

He adds the main big change is the fact that prices have pretty much doubled, but the operations remain the same: “That’s what we quite like about pubs. Restaurants have changed a huge amount, with massive trends and are very fickle. Pubs don’t change all the time. Our pub the Abbeville is not a million miles from what it was in 2003.”  

One of the main changes the company has seen is in consumer behaviour: “Customers are more demanding, they know what a good pub should be like and won’t settle for it not being good. Standards across the board have risen hugely across the past 20 years,” says Fox.

And what advice would they offer to others looking to repeat their success? “Structure and delegation,” Fox says. “And don’t do it alone!”

To hear the full interview with the Three Cheers founders, click above.

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