The Oak Apple, Worcester and The Woodman, Netherton
Darren Brett became franchisee at the Oak Apple in Worcester in January 2016. With plans to become a multiple operator, he took on his second site, the Woodman in Netherton, just a few months later.
Darren’s career history is an interesting one! He played professional football for Nottingham Forest for seven years before travelling to America to continue his playing career. Later on he moved into coaching, franchising football clubs across the US, Brazil and South Africa.
After moving back to the UK he worked briefly in construction, and it was then that an advert in a local newspaper enticed Darren into the pub industry. The advert offered Darren all the training he needed to take on his own pub. Once he’d completed his training, his first pub business was the New Inn in Reading, an Enterprise Inns managed site. He quickly expanded and took on a local tenanted site with Greene King; a community local pub where he doubled sales in his first year there by introducing a food offer and putting the focus on sport. Three of Greene King’s Meet & Eat sites in Oxford, Reading and Nottingham followed shortly after, along with an additional three Enterprise sites.
Darren said of his time in the industry, “Working in the pub trade means you do have to make sacrifices – it’s very much a way of life, rather than being just a job. I think you have to be a certain type of person to run a pub! But if you’re prepared to work hard, the rewards are there and the earnings make the effort worthwhile.”
“Franchising appealed to me because of the level of support available. Marston’s franchise model provides a great framework for you to use to operate the business – but it still gives you the freedom and flexibility to paint the picture that sits within it. Even though I had a lot of experience in the industry when I came to Marston’s, the induction and training I received was really insightful and gave me the opportunity to understand Marston’s ways of working and their systems. The training team in particular have been fantastic – not only do they work with us as franchisees but they also spend time with our teams, both front and back of house,” Darren commented.
“Since taking on the Oak Apple we’ve focused on creating reasons to visit. A full events calendar has been the key to this – we’ve introduced karaoke sessions and music nights. Shortly we’re trialling an artists’ showcase evening, supporting local musicians. Because of my background I’m keen to bring more sports teams into the business too. The pub also has a great function room which hasn’t been utilised to full capacity and this would be a great place for live music.”
Darren has spent a lot of time with the team he inherited when taking on the Oak Apple. “Having a team who believe in your plans for the pub is really important. If they’re on board they’ll act as ambassadors for the business and give you their all. Their buy-in and commitment is crucial – you have to recognise that you can’t do everything all by yourself. I involve the team in the business and get their ideas – it makes them feel valued and motivates them to make the business work.”
“I am really excited about the direction Marston’s is moving in. It’s a progressive company and my future with Marston’s is looking really promising. Since their franchise model lends itself to multi-site operation, I was able to take on my second site within a few months, and I have plans for more!”