Choice is key to growth at Robinsons

Cheshire family brewers, Robinsons, are driving beer growth in their 360+ tenanted pubs by – wait for it – giving the customers what they want!

“I’m not sure that this should be a surprise to us, but having listed nine new lagers last summer we are now seeing like for like sales in growth.  January alone saw sales of lager up 4%” commented David Bremner, Director of Marketing.  Key to this was a detailed segmentation in which Robinsons created a ‘traffic light’ system for each brand against each segment.

“Again, this is common sense.  Big brands like Carling or Fosters have a very important role to play but they aren’t right for every pub.  In Beer Shrines perhaps Amstel is better with Budvar or Veltins as a premium lager” David continued. “We’ve also found that the number of brands on offer has a great impact on the performance of lager in pubs.  Those offering four brands or more are showing the best results as a group and so, as we go forward, we are making stronger and stronger recommendations to our licensees based on the simple fact – demonstrated in other pubs just like theirs – that choice is key.  This is no different to what some of the best managed companies like Mitchells & Butlers have been doing for a while.”

“The Business Development Managers are pivotal to the success of this as licensees are often lead by personal preferences and their regulars.  So we created a business tool to plan various scenarios and show the impact on licensee profit from adding new brands and growing business.  The average increase in cash gross profit is over £3,500 per year and for doing what?  Giving the customer what they want!”

This success in the face of a struggling market has lead to further developments.  “Once we could see the way this was going, we quickly turned our attention towards the bottled beers.  We listed a range of around 12 new products alongside home favourites like Old Tom and Ginger Tom.  Not the usual Belgian suspects but innovative craft beers from Chicago and San Francisco too.  With our help we now have beer menus on trial in a dozen sites and the early signs suggest that these could be real crowd pullers.”

David concluded, “We have some other key conversations underway with a great local partner to take this one step further, but we can’t say too much at this stage.”  Robinsons also report strong cask sales for the start of the year driven by new product development.  Long Kiss Goodnight, a new-fangled 2012 seasonal ale, is driving a 2% growth on like-for-like tenanted cask sales.  In addition, with a brand new £5 million brew house about to open things aren’t looking too grim ‘up north’.

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