Tenant Adam Holland at the Puffing Billy pub at Exton, near Exeter
St Austell Brewery has been acclaimed the UK’s best tenanted pub company for the sixth time in a row by the harshest of critics — the tenants themselves.
The annual M&C Allegra (MCA) Tenant Track survey interviews more than 1,200 pub tenants and lessees operating within 13 different pub companies across the country to gain a snapshot of the health of the sector.
This year’s survey by the independent food and drink research agency saw St Austell come out top again, with great relationships and support from the brewery, in terms of business controls and point of sale equipment, driving the company’s success.
Continuing to outperform its rivals, the family-run business scored 8.73 out of ten from tenants asked to rate their pub company — the highest score recorded in the survey — with day-to- day dealings with the brewery rated at 8.92 out of ten, up 13% on 2017.
According to St Austell’s retail director, Steve Worrall, the success of the relationships shared between the brewery and its tenants stems from listening to them to find out what they really need and sharing best practice, which, over the last year, has seen the further development of dedicated design and marketing support to enhance the bespoke service already offered to all tenants.
Steve said: “We are delighted to have come out top in the latest Tenant Track survey and to have again increased our scores from last time. We continue to roll out initiatives that have worked well in our managed estate, such as free mystery customer visits, and look to provide the best support possible to tenants and their teams, with customer service training to help promote best retail practices.
“Where appropriate, we have also stepped up smaller capital investments with our tenants, including beer garden and bedroom schemes to help drive business, while our business development managers have increased their focus on providing practical business support, especially for those in their first year of trading.”
St Austell came out top in three key training categories, including the support it provided for development training, recruitment and its company support website, as well as leading the field in terms of its knowledge of both the tenants’ business needs and customers.
The overall quality of the brewery’s network of business development managers also topped the poll, scoring 9.2 — again the highest in the study, and up from 8.7 in 2017.
Reporting the highest weekly turnovers in the survey, food sales continue to be a core revenue stream across the brewery’s estate, with 93% of St Austell tenants reporting selling food, the highest share in the study. Food sales currently make up 42% of sales at St Austell pubs, well above the study average of just 23%.