The Good Food Partnership

With food sales in UK pubs now worth a staggering £7.5 billion per year, Star Pubs & Bars introduced an initiative designed to help licensees launch or improve their own food offering. Lessee Support Manager, Simon Thomas, tells us more…

SP&B: Is food really so important?

ST: Yes! Food is more important in pubs than ever before as food sales continue to be an area of outstanding growth. Last year, food sales grew by over 4% and there is every sign that this trend will continue. Let’s not forget: where a customer buys food, they will also buy a drink!

SP&B: Is food important to wet led pubs as well?

ST: Most definitely. Food can provide wet led pubs with the ability to add additional income streams to their business. The Good Food Partnership allows the licensee to offer a menu suited to virtually any pub, and on the odd occasion we cannot launch a full menu, our Bar Booster scheme can offer a range of back bar food opportunities.

SP&B: What factors are driving this growth?

ST:  The large chains of managed houses are extremely good at serving food that is both consistently good quality and excellent value for money. Customers are therefore trusting managed houses to provide a great value treat. However, their success is not necessarily based on offering the cheapest price, it is based on offering the right price for a particular pub.

SP&B: How does the Good Food Partnership generate better food sales?

ST: This initiative has been created to help replicate managed houses’ successful blend of consistency, value for money and great British pub dishes. However, we have a huge advantage over managed houses, as our licensees have the ability to react far quicker and personalise their food offer with additional garnish and improved presentation that managers in big chains aren’t allowed to do.

SP&B: How does it work?

ST: Exactly as it says: this is a partnership between licensees, Star Pubs & Bars' BDMs and food service experts, 3663, that will help our pubs serve consistently good food. We have combined HEINEKEN UK’s insight into pubs with 3663’s insight into the pub food market. The result is a choice of distinctive dining experiences, each tailored to suit a different type of pub. Each pub can choose from a large range of dishes, fix their own pricing and create their own promotional activity so their offer is perfect for their customers.

SP&B: What support is offered?

ST: When a licensee wants to join the partnership, their BDM and a representative from 3663 will visit and help them choose the dining experience that’s the right style and price for their customers. Each package comes complete with easy-to-follow instructions for preparing the dishes, selling prices and Gross Profit percentages. There’s advice on purchasing new kitchen equipment and place settings and a range of professionally designed and printed POS material that includes menus, table talkers, posters and staff shirts.

SP&B: What must the licensee provide?

ST: To join the Good Food Partnership, a licensee must open an account with 3663 so they can buy the crockery, cutlery and other items they’ll need to prepare and serve their food. Apart from that, the licensee’s main commitment is to carry out the required e-learning and other training for themselves and their staff, so they can launch their food offer with confidence.

SP&B: What does the training involve?

ST: A licensee and any staff involved in handling food must hold a Basic Food Hygiene certificate, which is just one of many courses available through our e-Learning package.

SP&B: How will the partnership maintain standards among members?

ST: It’s a condition of membership that licensees register with their local council’s Environmental Health Office and comply with the Food Standard Agency’s food safety management regulations. The reports compiled by these retail standards experts, who visit pubs anonymously, provide feedback for the licensee and their BDM to discuss at their next review. It’s this feedback that’s vital for keeping any food offer performing at its best.

SP&B: What do SP&B get out of the partnership?

ST: Absolutely nothing! We don't receive any rebate, retro or payments from 3663 because the purpose of the Good Food Partnership is simply to help our licensees introduce or improve their food offer. We know how important food is to pubs and we don't want our licensees to miss out on the opportunities that are out there.

SP&B: How can pubs join?

ST: Any new or existing licensee in the Star Pubs & Bar's estate can contact their BDM, who will arrange a joint visit with themselves and a representative from 3663. They will explain the Good Food Partnership from start to finish and show exactly how menus can be turned into margins.

PUB FOOD FACT

Did you know customers spend the most money - £6.3 billion - on main courses, with starters and desserts worth another £600 million each.

PUB FOOD FACT

The top five pub food favourites are: roast dinners (£876m), steaks (£585m), burgers (£540m), fish & chips (£334m) and pies & puddings (£116m).

PUB FOOD FACT

The total value of pub food sales is expected to reach £9.5 billion per year by 2017.

Sources: HIM Research & Consulting 2012, CGA Pub Food Report 2012, Heineken Research 2012