The Pub People expands by 50% in six months

By Amelie Maurice-Jones

- Last updated on GMT

Pub People: Mark Crowther was appointed as non-executive chairman in October 2022
Pub People: Mark Crowther was appointed as non-executive chairman in October 2022

Related tags Pub people company Finance Multi-site pub operators East midlands Property

The Pub People has grown its estate by 50% in six months, a move its non-executive chairman cites as one of his biggest achievements as he eyes the future with “confidence”.

In October 2022, Mark Crowther was appointed as non-executive chairman of the East Midlands-based operator, which oversees sites in Derby, Nottingham, Chesterfield, Sheffield and Lincoln.

For Crowther, the business is focused on employing great people and incentivising them to run great pubs. “The customer wins at the end of the day,” he explained.

The biggest achievement of The Pub People, for Crowther, was its very formation. Last September, Downing LLP became the majority shareholder of the group which comprised of around 20 freehold pubs.

Its second top achievement was “pulling in the team,” he continued, with Andy Crawford promoted to the role of managing director, and Sarah Strachan (formerly of Punch Pubs) appointed as the new chief financial officer in 2023.

Then, Crowther cited the company’s third biggest achievement as the quality of assets it had been able to buy. The Pub People had grown the business by 50% in just over six months,​ which was “quicker than we were hoping, which is great,” Crowther added. “We’ve been lucky in terms of the pubs we’ve been able to buy.”

Talking of the reshuffling of the senior management team, Crowther said: “It’s taken the professionalism up to another level.”

New EPOS and finance systems are currently being installed into the head office.

The non-executive chairman said: “It’s not just about buying pubs, but we then invest CAPEX into them to ensure we maximise the trading.”

The company has acquired 10 pubs since last September, including five pubs last month (June) from Stonegate.

Community spirit

“The benefit of this is that we know the pubs and the customers really well,” added Crowther. “By now owning the freehold, there’s more of an incentive for us to invest into the sites, which is what we’re doing.”

For instance, the business is currently lining up some CAPEX spending for the Ranmoor Inn, Sheffield, South Yorkshire.

While all being distinctly individual, the five new sites were all good quality, good real estate in terms of freehold, and had good customer bases, according to Crowther.

He said: “What Pub People do is run good pubs for their local communities, and with these, absolutely, that’s the case.”

The company​ operates on a model where they pair with partners to run the sites. Pubs could be wet-led, foodie focused, or have rooms, but they needed to be “good quality, long term trading pubs”.

The non-executive chairman said the business typically looked at pubs that traded on £10,000 average net revenue per week, but it also had much bigger properties as well.

Challenges currently facing the business include the cost-of-living crisis​ and soaring inflation rates. “That’s an ongoing thing,” said Crowther, but he believed the fact that the pubs were well-run and invested in had probably cushioned the business from the harsh impacts other companies had seen.

Where possible, staff worked with suppliers to mitigate increases. Crowther added: “We have to be sensible in terms of passing on increases as well where necessary, but we try and minimise those.

“You’ve got to keep prices reasonable, but also make sure that we’re not just accepting big price rises from our suppliers.”

Confident outlook

In five years’ time, Crowther aims to potentially be approaching 100 sites, be well invested, and also to be one of the leading companies in the region.

Since his appointment last year, Crowther has “really enjoyed” working with The Pub People team, as well as getting to know the sites.

He hopes he can bring support and guidance to the board, and work with the management team, particularly Andy and Sarah, through supporting and challenging them, as well as being a sounding board for ideas.

Feels “really confident” about the future of The Pub People. “It’s a really good, solid business,” he said, especially with supportive backing of Downing. “It’s really exciting.”

He added: "It’s got a really good, strong team and really good, strong backers. It’s a good combination that will see us continue to succeed growing forward.”

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