In 2008, family-run CD Pub Co. took on The Stag at Offchurch with the vision of developing a gastro pub renowned for its high end food, excellent service and value for money. Just 12 months after opening they were awarded the Best Food Pub of the Year Award. Now with 3 pubs in the group and a 4th set to open next year, HR and Marketing Director Christine Harris shares an insight into their business journey so far and future plans for expansion.
What’s your business all about?
CD Pub Co. is a family-run business. We’re all about providing high quality pub dining and first class service. All our food is developed and prepared by our own talented chefs – top quality food and excellent service is really central to our ethos.
What was the inspiration behind your business idea?
My partner David and I were working in house building when we were made redundant. In 2006 we started our own house building business which is when we first met Pete Ormerod. During the recession not a lot of property developers survived, but we managed to sell our stock and due to the lack of funding avlaiable to buy more land we looked for other opportunities.
Our son Charles is a formally trained chef and he was working in the catering industry at the time, which was also facing difficulties due to the financial climate. We decided that we wanted to give him the chance to see if he could make a go of it on his own, so when the opportunity to purchase The Stag at Offchurch came up, CD Pub Co. was formed.
Twelve months after we took it on we were awarded the Best Food Pub of the Year award. It boosted our business almost overnight – we were approached by other pub companies and in 2010 we acquired The Moorings at Myton. Then in 2013 we purchased The Forest at Feckenham. We’ve refurbished each pub in our own unique style and we’re currently working on another pub. We will have 4 trading pubs by this time next year, with plans to expand to 5 in total.
What helped you to learn how to run a new business?
David and I were directors of a large PLC before we started our own business, which gave us a lot of knowledge and expertise. Running a large business requires exactly the same skills as running a smaller one, just on a different scale.
David had the practical knowledge of technical and building, and my background was in sales, marketing and interior design and marketing. Charles had the formal training as a chef and also the knowledge of customer service and front of house experience that we needed, and our daughter Faye came on board to manage the finances – she’s now our Financial Director. We’re a real family business and everyone’s skills complement each other and take care of different elements of the business.
What would be your top tip to anyone thinking of starting their own business?
We started our business in a recession and were told we must be mad, but if you’ve got the desire and the drive to do something and you bring your knowledge and flare to the table you really can achieve it, if you’re willing to put in a lot of time and a lot of effort.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve overcome?
Our biggest challenge in this industry is finding and keeping talented staff. Our business ethos is all about excellent food and service, so talented head chefs and general managers are really important – they’re also in high demand! We pride ourselves on finding and keeping our staff, the 2nd person we took on is actually still with us which we think is a real testament to our company culture and the way we do business.
What’s your proudest business moment?
Winning the Best Food Pub of the Year award in 2010 was a very proud moment for us. We went for it to gain the experience of entering awards, and I don’t think any of us thought we would win. We attended the awards evening at the Grosvenor Hotel in London and were really surprised when we were announced as the winners! It changed our business almost overnight and created a lot of opportunities for us, as well as giving us and our stakeholders the confidence in our business that allowed us to grow
With an excellent reputation for high quality cuisine and exceptional service, Warwickshire based CD Pubs are now an award-winning family business on track to open their 4th gastro pub next year. They have been finalists for the National Best Employer in the Hospitality Awards in 2012, 2013 and 2014, and have won a range of industry awards regionally and nationally.
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