Charles Wells has continued the expansion programme for its Pizza, Pots & Pints managed pub concept with the opening of its first pub in Oxford.
The Oxford Blue, in the Cowley Road area of the city, is the sixth in its Pizza, Pots & Pints portfolio, which the company plans to grow to 25 over the next three years.
The concept was introduced by Charles Wells in 2015 with the opening of The Salisbury Arms, in Cambridge. Since then, it has been rolled out to The Queens Head, in Peterborough, The Old White Horse, in Baldock, The Radcliffe Arms, in Hitchin, and most recently a second in Cambridge, The Carpenters Arms.
All locations offer a community-style pub for residents and businesses, and have a menu of freshly made pizzas and terracotta one-pot meals. They also serve a selection of Charles Wells’ beers, including Charlie Wells, and its monthly artisan beer from the Wandering Brewer Project. The sites are set to offer beers from the new Charles Wells craft brewery in 2019.
The Oxford Blue, an EI Group pub, has undergone extensive refurbishment. It is an iconic venue in the Cowley Road area, close to the running track where Roger Bannister completed the first four-minute mile. It is Charles Wells’ first pub in Oxford, with plans being finalised for a second Pizza, Pots & Pints pub across the city opening later in the year. It is staffed by a team of 14 and offers 85 covers inside and out across the 2,200 square feet.
Benjamin Smith, operations director for Charles Wells, said: “Since we opened the doors on our first Pizza, Pots & Pints three years ago, the concept has been an immediate success with our customers… The Oxford Blue is a welcome addition to the portfolio, and it is great to see this well-known and locally loved pub re-open with a contemporary new look, helping us to establish the Charles Wells name in Oxford.”
This latest opening is part of a strategic move by Charles Wells to develop two strong branded offerings as part of its managed pub portfolio, to complement its 186 leased and tenanted pubs across the UK. Pizza, Pots & Pints, and Apostrophe, offer different drinking and eating occasions: smaller, community-based pubs with informal eating and larger, gastro-pubs with overnight accommodation respectively.
Charles Wells chief executive, Justin Phillimore, said: “The Pizza, Pots & Pints format is a key part of the Charles Wells growth strategy over the next three years.
“We are actively looking for individual sites as well as smaller, regionally-based multiples to expand this portfolio, and major towns and cities (within 70 miles of Bedford) where we currently do not have a strong presence such, as Oxford, are top of our list. Our ambition is to have 25 Pizza, Pots & Pints sites over the next three years.”