Opportunity knocks for business-minded

Whether a managed or leasehold pub, applicants need the right qualities

Running a pub is a tough gig at the best of times, so it’s important that potential lessees and managers ensure they have the right qualities for the job.

Pub companies said anyone planning to take on a pub – whether a tenancy, leased or managed house – needs a good head for business in addition to social and customer service skills. 

Smiling bartender

Chris Jowsey, trading director at Star Pubs & Bars, said: “The Star Pubs & Bars estate is focused on quality pubs with multiple income streams so the type of lessees we are looking to attract are business-minded operators and entrepreneurs with the ability to maximise all the opportunities that such pubs provide.”

Jowsey added that new publicans also need to be “resilient” because relationships – whether professional or personal – can be put under pressure.

“Many of our most successful pubs are partnerships between family members, husband and wives or business partners,” he said.

“But working together can put relationships under pressure.

“If potential lessees are in a partnership they need to think through how they’ll make it work.”

Clive Chesser, business unit director for Belhaven tenanted and leased pubs, part of Greene King Pub Partners, said passion is the most important quality a potential lessee can possess.

“We have an extensive training programme for new and existing licensees but the one thing you can’t train is passion and enthusiasm and that is top of our list when looking for someone to run a Belhaven pub,” he said.

At Stonegate, which owns the Slug and Lettuce, The Living Room, Scream and Yates’s bar brands, Holly Cunnington, head of recruitment, said potential managers should be aware of all that the role entails.

“Whilst the job is very rewarding, it is all-consuming,” she said.

A background in retail or a service role is, she said, “essential” for anyone considering a management position.

However, managers will be able to count on support from the company.

“All our managers are supported through extensive training and managerial support every step of the way,” said Cunnington.

This support includes a four-week training programme for managers as well as a “welcome day” at the company’s head office, where they meet central personnel. 

“New managers will also take part in masterclasses covering a whole range of subjects and are supported via a buddy scheme by area managers and experienced general managers,” added Cunnington.

That level of support is said to be one of the principal benefits of working with a larger business, whether on the leased or managed front.

Jowsey, of Star Pubs & Bars, said working with a larger pub company allows lessees to “be their own boss” while using their own “entrepreneurial flair” to try out new ideas.

At the same time Star Pubs & Bars offers its lessees a broad range of support.

The company provides training for lessees before they take up their lease, as well as further support once they are in place.

“The first three months is critical to the ongoing success of a leased pub,” said Jowsey.

“So in 2014 Star Pubs & Bars introduced an intensive support programme, called Countdown to Launch, which brings unprecedented levels of support for new recruits in the leased sector.”