The Peach way

The Peach Pub Company has been ‘making life Peachy’ since 2002, courtesy of an all-encompassing ‘people first’ philosophy

Firmly believing that every town deserves a great pub, The Peach Pub Company (Peach) opened its maiden restaurant in 2002. Over the next almost two decades, the ‘recipe for happiness’, as the pub group calls it, left the confines of The Rose & Crown in Warwick to be replicated in 19 other locations across counties in the heart of England.

What are the ingredients of the ‘recipe’? Everything that has made the classic British pubs a national treasure worth preserving – well-kept beer, a quality steak cooked by a proper chef, and a glass of wine, all served with a kind word and a sense of fun. But, there is more to that. At least in the way the Peach pubs are run.

One immediately gets a sense of the professionalism that reigns supreme within every layer of the business, exemplified by the ‘Making Life Peachy’ ethos followed through and through by everyone working for Peach. It is a philosophy revolving around putting people first and that involves staff, guests, suppliers, and shareholders alike.

Clear vision
“First and foremost, ‘Making Life Peachy’ is about courtesy, politeness, genuine warmth, and treating people with respect as they are the most important asset we have,” begins Operations Director, Chris Stagg. “For example, this may cover anticipating guest needs or the manner in which we recover a service issue. Or, it may be related to how we grow and retain our teams, in terms of pay, hours, training and development, and even child care.

“We offer our people a route to fulfil their dreams, on top of the various benefits that we provide them with, such as the large family discounts, the free food during shifts, and the fact that we are not a minimum wage employer and we pay overtime to team members who work over 48 hours a week,” Chris adds. “More importantly, our leadership habits ensure that the teams are consulted over issues they can help with and we try very hard to have a clear line of communication with staff and a very clear vision of where we are going, so that we can keep them informed and motivated.”

To ensure the consistency of the Peach experience across all of its pubs, the company has also designed a solid training programme that consists of 90 days training per year and which includes teaching brand standards on service, product knowledge, selling techniques, leadership, and team management to staff. Knowing all this, it becomes easy to understand why Peach made it to the Sunday Times ‘100 Best Companies to Work For’ list in 2019 for the third year running.

Menu development
Crafting the best food offering possible is no doubt the number one priority for every self-respecting pub. In its latest masterstroke, Peach brought in Michelin-star chef Clive Dixon to the position of Head of Food Development to work alongside the group’s two regional executive chefs, developing dishes and working with suppliers.

Chris comments on the appointment and on the processes the company follows to guarantee that the food served in its restaurants is sure to leave a lasting impression on guests: “Clive has worked with some of the luminaries in our industry and gained his star at a very young age, and we are certainly looking forward to this collaboration. Other than that, the general rule across our pubs is to allow chefs to contribute around about 40 per cent to the menu in their respective location. Our executive chefs are always there to support the senior ones and we also have an internal process where the Operations team and myself share feedback and images of the food every time we are in the pubs.”

Given the increasing demand for more vegetarian and vegan menu options in restaurants, as well as the general move towards plant-based diets, it is presently a central task for Peach to develop dishes that are exciting enough for those guests who have adopted such a lifestyle. “We cannot get away from the growth of plant-based, so we want to embrace this change in consumer preferences and become the pub group of choice for this market,” Chris maintains. “Aside from that, our exceptional classics remain incredibly popular. This is where we let the product talk, our job is merely to present it on the plate. Finally, we are seeing fish moving up the top ten most sought-after dishes for Peach, which is another interesting consumer trend that may shortly be reflected in our menus.”

Growth plans
Being a leader in any industry, or in any walk of life for that matter, means not only being financially successful, but also assuming a greater social responsibility to drive a meaningful change for the benefit of communities and the environment. In an unambiguous demonstration of its strong commitment to doing good on a larger scale, Peach launched its ‘Bigger Peach’ initiative in 2019, with the ultimate aim of becoming completely carbon-neutral within the next few years.

“We realise that this is a big ask, but we are working on it. Two years ago, we eliminated plastics from our operations, we now collect food waste, and we do not airfreight food – everything is as local as it gets,” Chris explains. “From a wider CSR perspective, we also support local charities and we encourage each pub to choose one for a continued partnership, while we 39have a central one, too, which we are in constant touch with.”

In conclusion, the Operations Director assures us that growth will be the buzzword for Peach in 2020 and beyond. “We will be growing our teams through training and development, we will open two new pubs, and, of course, we are expecting to generate even greater growth in profit,” he enthuses. “In the long-term, we want to expand our portfolio of locations to over 30, exclusively within our current trading area of the middle of England. In parallel, we are aiming at a turnover of £50m, and at breaking through the top ten of the ‘Best Companies to Work For’ table. More than anything, however, we want to be a pub group that everyone loves and the first place our local guests think of when they are planning to go to go out to eat, drink, and indulge,” Chris concludes.