I joined Hall & Woodhouse almost 25 years ago in February 1993. I started working in the leisure industry with Ladbrokes in their betting shop division when I finished university; I started as a Shop Manager before becoming a District Manager looking after 120 shops across South West England and South Wales. I later moved to Allied Lyons pub division which, back in the 1980s, incorporated many well-known pub companies such as Taylor Walker, Joshua Tetley, Friary Meux and Ansell’s. However, I worked for a lesser known company, Halls Oxford and West, to run my one and only pub The White Horse at Headington.
Under the Allied umbrella I became a pub Area Manager covering a managed house region of Bristol, Gloucester and Cheltenham. It was during this period that I was head hunted and asked to consider a position at a family run brewery in Dorset. Although I wasn’t familiar with the company at the time, the family-run element really appealed to me. I initially met David Woodhouse in 1992 for an informal ‘first interview’. I had my final interview on Christmas Eve and was delighted to begin my new career as a Tenanted Area Manager in February 1993. It was a very different tenanted division then to the division that exists today; there were only 65 pubs to be looked after by the small team of two Area Managers (including myself), one Surveyor and a Secretary working for David Woodhouse who, at that time, was the Tenanted Trade Director.
The rest, as they rightly say, is history. Since then I have been glad to be part of an evolution that has seen the Hall & Woodhouse Tenanted Area Manager modified and developed in many different ways (including several name changes) leading to the new title of Business Development Partner.
Fundamentally, I am a facilitator and communicator between two different, but very much intertwined, businesses: the large family brewery (Hall & Woodhouse) and the pub operator running their own business (Business Partner). There are usually between 30-40 of these relationships in my area at any given time.
Over time, this role has progressed to being more than a friendly, trusting and supportive company representative. I’m now more actively involved with the development of the business, and I support our Business Partners to become more commercially successful, maximizing their own profit potential.
This requires much more involvement in the financial returns of the business and a much greater understanding of how the Business Partners are running their businesses, as well as their future aspirations. It’s this development aspect of the role that has led to the name change from Area Manager to Business Development Partner.
My area is large geographically, covering Devon, Somerset, Bristol, half of Dorset and a little bit of Wiltshire! It includes a significant amount of seasonal pubs with accommodation, so sunshine always helps us. The area has performed well over the last two years, helped by strong performing transfers from H&W Managed Houses (the Half Moon at Shaftesbury and the Barn Owl at Newton Abbot), and a number of successful investment schemes.
A star performer in my area at the moment is The Crown at Marnhull; the pub has gone from strength to strength under the current Business Partners, Monty and Gemma, who are the deserving winners of the 2017 H&W Business Partnership Pub of the Year Award.
Aside from working with current Business Partners, recruitment is a fundamental part of what we do; every pub we own is only as good as the Business Partners we find to run them. I’ve worked with Commercial Manager, Chris Chapman, and Marketing Executive, Gabi Egleton, this year to improve our recruitment strategy. We’ve developed all areas of the recruitment process, from the vacancy website and interview process right through to new business plan templates. This has been a big project, but it’s worth it because it allows us to find the very best Business Partners.
I’ve also embarked on an internal coaching qualification with Hall & Woodhouse GP2W Academy, which has enabled me to work with others within the organisation to help them reach their potential and work through their own objectives. It’s a fascinating and very rewarding course and has given me an insight into areas of the business I wouldn’t normally be involved with. If I can coach others, it allows me to give something back to the company I’ve had the pleasure of being a part of for the last 25 years