Shepherd Neame MD: 'pub's should reflect their heritage'

By Rebecca Weller

- Last updated on GMT

Treasured jewel: Shepherd Neame invests more than £2.5m into its pub estate (Pictured: the Tom Cribb pub in London)
Treasured jewel: Shepherd Neame invests more than £2.5m into its pub estate (Pictured: the Tom Cribb pub in London)

Related tags Property Finance Multi-site pub operators

Pub refurbishments should reflect market trends while honouring their history, Shepherd Neame managing director Jonathon Swaine told The Morning Advertiser, as the pubco invests more than £2.5m into its estate.

The independent family brewer and pub company recently announced the reopening of the Tom Cribb pub in London’s West End, following a 12-week, £800k renovation themed around the venue’s boxing history.

Swaine said: “Tom Cribb was a symbol for the enduring strength for British values of fortitude, courage and strength and that is a really lovely piece of history.

“The wonderful thing about pubs is they've each got their own personality and have been recreating themselves for centuries. They should reflect the time we're in and the different trends that are out there to bring all that knowledge and creativity together to retell the pub’s story for the next few years.

“It helps you provide growth and innovation for the business as well as keeping up to date with market trends, but it's one chapter in that pub’s story.”

Rich and colourful history 

Named after the world champion bare knuckle boxer who used to drink in, and eventually ran the Panton Street pub in the 19th century, the Tom Cribb has benefitted from redecoration throughout, as well as a layout change to the bar are to give the venue a more open plan feel.

Swaine described the pub as having a “rich and colourful” history, which inspired the restoration’s theme, showcasing some “really interesting boxing memorabilia”.

Furthermore, the MD explained pub restorations should be “fun” to help draw in consumers, especially tourists, and honouring a venue’s heritage is a good way to do that.

He continued: “In a world which is quite ephemeral these days, where we go from place to place from screen to screen, this pub been here for a couple of 100 years and to honour that is a nice thing to do.

"It's really a beautiful looking pub”

“People like seeing seeking out unique places, by celebrating history and celebrating, that is a nice thing to do in a world which is quite fast moving.” 

In addition, the venue also pays homage to one of Cribb’s associates that also used to drink in the pub when it was the Union Arms, Bill Richmond, naming the newly created first floor room after him.

“We've immortalised [Richmond] by naming our first floor the Richmond room, which is the new space we've created with an adjoining kitchen", Swaine added. 

The décor was chosen to reflect a Victorian style, using a palette of rich greens and burgundies, in addition to memorabilia paying tribute to the pub’s, which was known as the Union Arms under Cribb’s management, namesake.

In keeping with the pub’s refreshed look, a new menu will also be available in the bar area and upstairs, including classic pub dishes such as fish and chips and a range of homemade pies, and bar snacks, such as sausage rolls and scotch eggs.

Swaine added the pub has seen a “really lovely mix of customers” since it reopened, from tourists to theatregoers.

The managing director also commended the efforts of those involved in renovating the pub, which took 12 weeks to complete, in particular the site’s manager, Marcin Bornus, as well as the building contractors, Shone Leisure, and designers, Sampsons.

Collage Maker-26-Sep-2023-02-57-PM-3427
Pictured: Marcin Bornus and the new signage at the Tom Cribb pub

He said: “I'm very proud of the external livery, the signage and the, the lettering and the colour schemes that we've used. It's really a beautiful looking pub.”

The pubco has also launched a new beer exclusively at the Tom Cribb, First Drop, a 4.3% session IPA.

Swaine described the new serve as "citrusy and flavoursome", adding it will be available across the Shepherd Neame estate from 1 October. 

In addition to reopening the Tom Cribb, the Faversham-based business also recently welcomed customers back to the Duke of Cumberland pub in Whitstable, which dates back to 1867 and has been owned by Shepherd Neame since 1898, following a £1.8m refurbishment, bringing the total investment across the two sites to more than £2.5m.

Treasured jewel 

The 14-week renovation includes beach-inspired décor, in honour of the venue's beachside location, with a full refurbishment to the bar and dining area as well as new decking and a new outside kitchen in the pub's courtyard area.

Moreover, the site now boasts eight boutique bedrooms and offers a menu reflective of the area, featuring freshly caught seafood alongside the firm's award-winning range of craft ales and lagers as well as a selection of wine and cocktails.

To mark the new reopening, Visit Kent’s chief executive officer, Deidre Wells OBE, was invited to pull the first pint.

Shepherd Neame Chief Executive Jonathan Neame with Visit Kent CEO Deidre Wells OBE pulling the first pint
Pictured: Jonathan Neame and Deidre Wells

Shepherd Neame chief executive Jonathan Neame said: “The Duke of Cumberland has been part of our estate for almost its whole life – more than 120 years - and is a treasured jewel in our coastal crown, so it was essential for us to ensure that this refurbishment preserved its unique heritage while also invigorating it with a contemporary feel.

“We are proud to be part of Whitstable’s thriving community and hope that the impressive work that has been carried out here will ensure The Duke of Cumberland continues to serve customers for the next century and beyond.”

Admiral Taverns reveals Redditch pub's £217k makeover 

Collage Maker-26-Sep-2023-03-19-PM-6532

Cheshire-based pub operator Admiral Taverns has reopened the Greenlands pub, formerly known as the Mayfly, on Studley road in Redditch after investing £217,000 into the renovating the venue. 

The pub, which is part of Admiral's Proper Pubs division, welcomed customers back on Friday 15 September, revealing its "fresh" new décor, featuring a brand-new bar, flooring and furniture throughout as well as a brand-new decking area outside. 

For opening weekend, customers enjoyed a prosecco reception and a schedule of entertainment, including a bouncy castle, live music, karaoke and a DJ.

Operator of the Greenlands Rachel Whitehead said: ​“Opening night was fantastic, it was amazing to see all our customers, old and new, coming to see what the pub has to offer!  

"The feedback we received from our community was amazing, and we can’t wait to see them again soon."

The Greenlands provides a wide range of drink offers, including cocktails, wine, and fizz promotions, as well as a full sports package of Sky Sports, BT Sports and Horse Racing. The pub, which also has a pool and darts team, will be hosting an annual schedule of events for the community to enjoy such as regular quiz and karaoke nights, as well as a regular schedule of charity events to support local causes. 

Mitchells & Butlers reopen central London pub after refurb 

Collage Maker-26-Sep-2023-03-48-PM-5095

The Builders Arms in Kensington, which is part of Mitchells and Butlers Castle Pubs operation, officially reopened earlier this month after being closed for four weeks as work to renovate the site was carried out.

While still retaining its 19th century features, the pub, which dates back to the 1800's, has benefitted from redecoration and a fully covered patio area outside in addition to a new upstairs bar, which is able to host meetings and private functions up to 40 people. 

In addition, the investment has created four new jobs to help the team serve customers.

Builders Arms general manager Jack Howitt said: “It’s fantastic the pub has had a refurbishment which has brought it back to life, myself and the team can’t wait for our guests to return.

"We’re looking forward to continuing the Builders Arms’ reputation as the best pub in the area.”

  • If you have any information regarding new openings, refurbishments or property details you think could be used in this weekly round-up section, along with hi-res landscape images, please email nzryvr.znhevpr-wbarf@jeoz.pbz​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ or​​.

Related topics Property law

Related news

Show more


Follow us

Pub Trade Guides

View more

The MA Lock In Podcast

Join us for a Lock In