Our Leased Partners
Read the stories of two of our leased partners
Lee Ball – Kings Arms, Ombersley
Lee Ball has been working in partnership with Marston’s at the Kings Arms in Ombersley, Worcestershire since July 2011.
The Kings Arms is a stunning pub with bags of character, and one which has long been renowned in the local area. So when Lee found out that it was available, he jumped at the chance to get involved. Lee said, “Although the Kings Arms was well-established when I took it on, I still felt that it had plenty of potential, and it suited my aspirations perfectly.”
When I took on the business I spent a lot of time getting to know the locals and understanding what they wanted from the pub. In a village location it’s crucial to get your locals on board so that they support you. Getting the basics right is so important – simple things like remembering a customer’s name go a long way. We’ve invested heavily in the pub, including developing the outside area, and have had great feedback on the changes we’ve made.”
“It’s not been without its challenges! Getting the right team is really important – you need to be confident that the pub is being operated to your standards even when you’re not on site yourself. Working in the pub trade means long hours but there is flexibility too, especially once you have your team in place. Customers are becoming increasingly discerning, so having a consistent and well-executed offer is essential. Peoples’ disposable income is precious these days so you need to make sure you give each customer a great experience.”
“Working with Marston’s has been great – in my view they are fair with their pub operators and they’ve always been very open with me. My BDM is really supportive of my plans for the business, and is a great source of advice. I have the freedom to run the business as I see fit, but there is guidance available when I need it. The support from the Customer Services team is also exceptional. Marston’s have an impressive real ale portfolio too, which sets them apart from other companies.”
“I’d advise anyone thinking of taking on their own pub to make sure it’s right for them before making a financial commitment. I’d been in the trade for a number of years before I took on the Kings Arms, and I think it’s important that people know what they’re letting themselves in for! You’ve got to be prepared to work hard to reap the rewards of having your own business. Make sure you have a strong business plan – but recognise that you need to be adaptable too. Doing what you’ve always done isn’t always enough – stand still and you may as well be going backwards!”
Nicola Storey - Mustard Pot, Leeds
Nicola has been running the Mustard Pot for the last eight years. Through a mix of attention to detail, investment from Marston’s and a string of continuous ideas and events, she’s doubled the pub’s takings.
“The garden was overgrown and we’ve worked very hard on that. The trade is 60/40 wet/dry and that’s mainly because of the garden in the summer. From April to July, it’s full outside with people drinking. Last December, we put tepees in the garden and had fires and drinks, so we’re getting the best from the space all year round. It was a great talking point, and meant that people came back during the quieter months after Christmas. Our music festivals have been really popular too. You have to make the most of key events, like Mother’s Day, but also things like Pie Week and Yorkshire Pudding Day. Promoting events with plenty of time is really important.”
“Marston’s invested in the extension and the function room, and the extra space means we can serve more food now. It’s meant that we need to take more each week, because our rent has increased as a result of the investment. But it doesn’t faze me, as it’s given us loads more options.”
“I love this pub, and I have a good relationship with Marston’s. This is the agreement that I signed up for and it’s exactly what I thought it would be. It’s great they’re a brewer as they care about beer. What’s more, Marston’s offer a lot of help. Whenever I need something, I never get a ‘no’. I know it’s always worth asking them and they will always consider what I’m asking for.”
“I’d recommend running a pub to anyone. Even with a family, it’s absolutely fine. You just need to have the right support. I find the pub offers me a great deal of flexibility.”
So what does the future hold for Nicola? “I’d like a freehold one day, but I’d also look at another lease. But it has to be the right site in the right location. The industry’s on the up, and I’m loving it!”