East Anglia: Greene King rolls out franchise format

PUBS and brewing group Greene King is continuing to roll out a new pub franchising model as part of its growth strategy.

The Bury St Edmunds-based company launched its “Meet and Eat” franchise platform last year and there are now 23 sites operating under the model.

The Gemini in Dereham, Norfolk, became the first to open under the programme last month with Steve Goodchild and Lisa Mead moving up from Essex to take over as franchisees after more than 20 years working in the motor industry.

And the Beehive, at Sprowston, near Norwich, which is currently under temporary management, is set to be the next pub to open during the spring.

Under the arrangement with Greene King, which is usually on a 10-year rolling basis, pubs get a �105,000 cash injection, to help fund specified refurbishment work and act as a trade deposit and working capital.

There is also access to NatWest as an official funding partner, with full training, clear operating procedures and systems, complete marketing plans and ongoing support.

Simon Longbottom, managing director of Greene King Pub Partners, said despite the tough economic climate and competitive market place in the pub sector, statistics showed that franchisees, using a business model with an established way of working, had a far higher chance of success than people who started independent businesses.

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“With Meet & Eat you get a fully refurbished and decorated pub that’s ready to trade,” he added. “You have food and drink menu set up for you, including a stable of award-winning world-class beer brands.

“Greene King prides itself on a wealth of experience, knowledge and support it offers to all the pubs in its estate. The Meet & Eat franchise opportunity is relatively new to us but we have more than 200 years of experience of operating great pubs and we’re delighted to open up a new route to running one with us.”

Ms Mead felt the franchise model was the “perfect option” for them.

“We met with the franchise team who took us through the process and explained everything in detail,” she said. “It was very quick and easy.

“The Gemini now looks a world away from where it was before the refurbishment. But the best thing is getting the locals back into the pub and in the first month we hosted two parties and had full bookings for Christmas lunch.”