It may be some time before we see the return of a busy bar with standing room only, but our venues adapted to ensure both our guests, Partners, teams and suppliers remained safe. With booking systems, one-way routes, increasing our already meticulous cleaning levels and implementing contact-free table service we were able to continue offering our guests memorable experiences.

During the pandemic, we were pleased to be able to remain true to our values and we provided unprecedented support to all of our 124 Business Partners. We waived rent payments to provide a vital lifeline to our Partners and deferred all loan payments; we also allowed unopened stock to be returned, helping wherever we could. Support didn’t cease when the government allowed our Partners doors to be reopened, we continued to implement rent reductions to allow Partners to rebuild their trade.

With the term furlough quickly transitioning from one of those American words we’d never heard of, to probably being one of the most used words of 2020, it’s been a strange year for everyone. I don’t think there are many people that can say they didn’t take stock of their situation, whether forced upon us or not.  For some, this time has offered the perfect opportunity for a change in career.

We recently caught up with a pair of new Business Partners in the H&W family, both transitioning from very different industries, but with the shared new goal of working for themselves.

Anne-Marie and Phil recently took on their first pub, The Stag Inn in West Sussex. Previously, Phil had been running a small insurance company, whilst Anne-Marie worked within the maternity department at their local hospital. Both brought their own skills to the table, Phil benefited from knowledge across a range of areas, with experience in HR, payroll and accounting. Anne-Marie was well versed in adhering to impeccable levels of hygiene around the workplace, with cleanliness fit for, well, hospital theatres!

We asked Phil and Anne-Marie what they enjoyed most about running their pub – “The guests who we now call friends. The most rewarding aspect of running The Stag was being accepted by its guests. In the beginning, we didn’t know anyone here so we knew that it would take a while for them to get used to us. I would say to Anne-Marie that if they see us working hard for them then it wouldn’t take long for them to accept us as custodians of their local.”

For many people, they’ll be in possession of more transferrable skills than they realise. We asked Phil to share some advice for anyone who is considering running a pub –  “Running our own business is one of the hardest things we have ever embarked on but also the most rewarding. It’s hard to trust people you don’t know at first so get to know the people you will be working with and serving too. Lead by example and never expect someone to do something you aren’t prepared to do yourself. Your team is critical to the success of your pub and business so surround yourself with the right people and trust your instincts after all it’s got you this far.” Some sound advice from Phil and we couldn’t agree more. At Hall & Woodhouse, we also provide a Business Development Partner for each region who is a pub expert that is on hand to give advice and answer questions.

One last thing that we wanted to find out from our new pair of Business Partners, was what one thing they would credit their success to in their first year? Phil told us “Without a doubt, it is the partnership and support of Hall & Woodhouse throughout both lockdowns. The cancelling of rent during lockdown, refunds of unused beer, and suspension of service payments ensured our survival as a business and means we have a chance when allowed to reopen again. The way H&W have treated their BPs is second to none and in stark contrast to some other pub companies. H&W invest and trust their business partners and this gives all of us every chance to be a success again when life gets back to something like we used to know.”

Thank you for the kind words Phil and Anne-Marie, and we continue to wish you and your team at The Stag Inn all the very best for 2021 and beyond. If you’d like to find out more about becoming a Hall & Woodhouse Business Partner, you can find out more here –


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