Talented licensee ready to rumble

Publican to take on his first premises through pubco’s new operator agreement

Derek Chalmers outside the Thistle Tavern, which will become The Rumbling Well

A DUNFERMLINE publican will be on the recruitment trail as he prepares to open his new pub in July.

Derek Chalmers has been in and out of the pub sector for the past two decades and was previously assistant manager of a venue in Edinburgh. The Thistle Tavern in Dunfermline will be his first pub.

It is also the first pub in Scotland to be taken on under Star Pubs & Bars’ Just Add Talent model.

The scheme, which launched in Scotland late last year, sees incoming operators charged a smaller fee than would be the case in a standard tenancy agreement – £4000 compared to at least £10,000 for a leasehold. The operator is responsible for paying their own and their staff costs, with the pub company paying all other expenses.

The profits from the pub are split between the pubco and the operator.

Chalmers said: “I’ve got the finances to take an L&T (leased and tenanted) pub and that’s my ultimate goal but I’m not 100 per cent ready to make the move.

“Just Add Talent is a great stepping stone. It provides lots of support and guidance and a proven offer but at the end of the day I’ll be my own boss and have my own business.

I can tailor the offer and entertainment to my customers and recruit and develop my own staff.

“I’ll have much more autonomy and control: I can tailor the offer and entertainment to my customers and recruit and develop my own staff. I know a lot of talented deputy managers who have hit a glass ceiling. It’s good to have new operating models such as Just Add Talent opening up career paths in the Scottish pub industry.”

Star is investing £300,000 refurbishing the Thistle Tavern, which will include adding a kitchen, creating several outdoor spaces and the installation of a new sound system.

The pub will reopen as The Rumbling Well in mid-July.

Star Pubs & Bars is currently looking for operators for two other Just Add Talent Pubs, The Chapel Tavern in Kirkcaldy and The Longstone Inn in Edinburgh.

Brian Davidson, operations director for Scotland at Star Pubs & Bars, said the Just Add Talent model “bridges the gap between working in a pub and taking your own lease or freehold”.

“In a way it’s like a business incubator,” said Davidson.

“It enables people to learn how to run their own pub in a supported environment and frees them up to focus on business development, customer service and building their staff team.

“Revenue and profit is shared between both parties with no limit on what operators can earn.

“Target earnings for licensees vary by site but are typically £30,000.

“Unusually for Scotland, free accommodation is included at some pubs enabling operators to live on site.

“With profit share on top, the package is very competitive.”