Speaking to members of hospitality networking organisation Arena at the Christmas lunch at The Mandarin Oriental in London yesterday, Simon Emeny, who became chief executive of the 386-strong pub group earlier this year, said the company planned to develop further into transport hubs while also sticking to its four core values.
Last week, the company re-opened The Tap on the Line at Kew – the only pub that sits on a London underground station – following a six-figure refurbishment and is now concentrating on opening its first airport site
London’s Pride will open airside at Heathrow’s new Terminal 2 next June, joining a host of other restaurants, pubs and bars, including a new nostalgic restaurant by Heston Blumenthal and Giraffe and The Restaurant Group's new concept Wondertree.
Both new pubs will follow last year’s opening of The Parcel Yard at the re-designed King’s Cross railway station last year, which is currently the highest performer of the group.
“The Parcel Yard is the largest station pub in the country and has the highest turnover of all our pub. It is part of our plan to develop pubs around transport hubs,” he said.
Big isn't beautiful
Although the company is looking to expand further and is looking at major cities as well as market towns for new sites, Emeny said it had no intention of becoming a much bigger player within the pub market.
“We are no means the biggest in the industry, but I think the last five years has taught people that big isn’t always beautiful,” he said.
Emeny, who joined Fuller’s 25 years ago after a stint at Bass, said the company continued to stick to its four core values - serving great cask ale, serving great food, serving great wines and providing engaging service.
"We don’t redefine our strategy every couple of years. In 2001 we came up with a list of core values and objectives we’d run the business by and we have been using the same set of values and objectives ever since," he said.
Emeny said he was one of the few within the industry who also thought the smoking ban had been a good thing for the industry and defended his company's decision to ban e-cigarettes.
"Banning e-cigarettes felt like the right decision and the feedback from our customers was that they found it disconcerting," he said. "People have got used to no smoking of anything and I think it would be regressive to let people smoke e-cigarettes.
"The best thing that happened to the business was the smoking ban because it has broadened the use of pubs to a bigger customer group. Many of our pubs now open at 8 in the morning and 60 per cent of our customers at that time are women who come in for coffee and pastries and don't have to put up with the smell of the previous night's activities."