After an enlightening morning from Horizons with their review of 2013 and look ahead to 2014 followed by a delicious lunch from the team at the Mandarin Oriental, the ‘Arena Christmas Lunch’ turned to the headline act – a talk from Simon Emeny, Chief Executive of Fuller, Smith & Turner PLC. Simon began by taking us back to his days at university where his passion for pubs led him away from his original accountancy aspirations to instead focus on a blend of economics, sport and running bars (a sign of things to come). Having graduated with Desmond (2:2) he joined Bass, (along with a number of his current industry peers who also went through their graduate scheme). This gave him a strong grounding in the industry and saw him reach Area Manager by the age of twenty five. Having progressed at speed up the career ladder he was appointed Strategic Planning Manager at Bass, but soon after, in 1996, he was head hunted by Fullers, where he was appointed to the board at age thirty two and oversaw the introduction of their core values and objectives in 2001 – which remain the same to this day. 2006 saw him make MD in charge of 386 pubs and continue to drive the company forward along these core principles.
So what has been behind Fuller’s success? Well in a nutshell…
Fullers seems to be going from strength to strength through both organic growth and acquisition. Indeed they are no longer a purely London based pub company, as 50% of their estate is outside of the M25 and they currently export their beers to 67 countries worldwide (not to mention their Cornish Orchards).
Following on from his talk the floor was opened up for questions.
Q: Regarding what the pub sector could do better? In Simon’s view where the pub sector needs to deliver compared to restaurants, especially the casual dining chains, is on consistency.
Q: On the rumours of a coffee chain? It’s a no, as it seems Chinese whispers have been at works based on a comment Simon made about a training facility they are developing for their Brewer St. Coffee concept (not a coffee chain). But with the smoking ban and extended opening hours and a wider customer base he sees coffee as increasingly important and will be working with his suppliers to ensure they deliver the best possible coffee.
Q: On banning e-cigarettes? He stands by his decision to ban them as consumers find them ‘disconcerting’.
So with high profile sites such as The Parcel Yard in Kings Cross and the London’s Pride pub, set to open at Heathrow Terminal 2, along with a determination to stay true to their core guiding principles with Simon at the helm it looks like (even without the benefit of a bolt on coffee chain) Fuller’s will be one of Peter Backman’s ‘winners’ for 2014. Thanks go to Simon for his great talk and of course Lorraine and the team for another great event!
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