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H&W business partnerships’ proven success in going multiple

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Hall & Woodhouse paves the way for multi-site business partners through their innovative agreements and support packages.

During recent years, Dorset-based family brewer, Hall & Woodhouse (H&W), has been actively seeking and developing multi-site operators for its Business Partnerships (tenanted) division and continues to be committed to supporting a new generation of licensees across a range of business disciplines.

Chris Chapman, commercial manager for business partnerships at H&W, comments:
“There are many benefits to new and existing Business Partners taking on multiple pubs, not least of which is the ability for them to make significantly greater profits and to spread their risk. Through our Business Partnership Agreement, we are able to offer a pricing structure and rental options that allows for a fair, maintainable trade (FMT) to be achieved.”

H&W are the proud partners of several multi-site operators who have seen real success over recent years. Business Partners, Gemma Howard and Eric Montgomery (Monty), have been slowly building their portfolio of H&W pubs since 2011, with the Old Farmhouse in Nailsea and the Crown Inn at Marnhull, and most recently the Hankridge Arms in Taunton in 2017.

Gemma and Monty have created concepts that offer a friendly, comfortable and memorable experience whatever the occasion; most pertinently, the pair have adopted an integrated approach across their sites. With the support of their Business Development Partner, Nick Sellick, they have introduced some of the systems and tools used in the H&W managed house estate, which help make running multiple businesses more effective. Part of this approach includes the use of a linked Epos till system, which provides them with quality sales data that they share with H&W and their Business Development Partner to improve decision-making. Monty and Gemma have also implemented consistent contracts, handbooks and ‘ways of working’ across their businesses, including a kitchen management diary originally developed for use in the H&W managed house estate.

H&W has provided a loan for the fixtures and fittings at each site and financed an internal refresh and external decoration at the Old Farmhouse in 2015, worth in excess of £100,000. In 2016, H&W supported them further by increasing the number of letting rooms at the Crown Inn, working alongside Gemma and Monty to promote this change by developing a new website with integrated social media and an optimised booking system. Monty comments:

“Our partnership with Hall & Woodhouse has been crucial to our success over recent years. It is a huge benefit to be able to tap into the knowledge and experience that this family-run company has in the brewing and hospitality sector. Their trust in our business model has enabled us to grow our operation into something greater than we could have imagined.”

Proof that this multi-site model is indeed important to H&W, the company also entered into a major partnership with chef and Business Partner, Oscar Chacon, in early 2015, funding a refurbishment that is their second largest to date within their Business Partnership estate.

With existing sites The Cherry Tree in Copthorne and the Airfield Tavern in Horley, Oscar took on his biggest challenge yet with The Dragon in Colgate, creating a plan to reposition the house from a wet-led ‘Broad Based Local’ to a ‘Great Pub, Great Food’ house, majoring on delicious meat-based dishes cooked on the in-house robata grill.

H&W reported a total initial investment in excess of £420,000, plus a £100,000 loan for fixtures and fittings. The site exceeded everyone’s expectations as a thriving casual dining outlet, so much so that it is now in its second phase of development and has warranted a further investment by H&W at a cost in excess of £270,000. H&W are working with Oscar to construct an orangery at the rear of the property, which will add an additional 38 internal covers.

In 2017, The Cherry Tree also underwent a significant major refurbishment to bring it in line with the concept at The Dragon. H&W reported a cost of £170,000 to complete this project and noted that Oscar made a significant investment for new fixtures and fittings.

Oscar Chacon, Business Partner, comments:
“As a multiple licensee I have spoken to a few pub companies over the years trying to extend my portfolio of pubs – by far the best agreement I have come across is the Hall & Woodhouse Business Partnerships Agreement. I know where I stand and I don’t feel penalised for doing well.”

A third H&W Business Partner, Mo Toal, has also been building up his portfolio of pubs. Mo took over his first H&W property, The Fountain in Chichester, in 2014, and went on to acquire the Six Bells in Billingshurst and the Strawberry Field Tavern in Southampton.

With a background as an operations director and retail director for the likes of Whitbread, Guinness, Yates Group and the Spirit Group, Mo had previously let properties with Punch, Spirit Lease and Private Operators before he was introduced to Hall & Woodhouse through various sources. Mo required a business model that would see a fair, maintainable deal, and H&W is one of the market leaders in offering this. Initially attracted to the flexibility of their agreement, Hall & Woodhouse were also able to support with the loans and schemes that Mo required to make his ventures viable. As Mo says:

“I have always admired H&W and, with a number of their managed pubs on my doorstep such as the Talisman, Jolly Sailor and Osborne View, I have been able to benefit from its high retailing standards, as well as tailoring certain decisions to suit the needs of our individual pubs.”

As part of the package of support, Mo worked directly with his Business Development Partners at H&W to create a plan to grow his businesses further. Mo received marketing support in the form of a new website for each house and traditional print materials such as signage and loyalty cards. After less than one year of trading, all three sites achieved turnover that allowed Mo to employ managers in each site, permitting him to focus on branding, food development and marketing the businesses further.

Commercial manager, Chris Chapman, concludes:
“H&W sees so much value in Business Partners who are committed to growing their businesses. We will continue to ensure our agreements and support packages exceed expectations in this indefinite climate, and that we continue to invest in our estate.”

For more information about Hall & Woodhouse Business Partnerships, please visit