The pubs sector has realised that, in the face of growing competition, training can help bring commercial success. Patrick McCurry raises his glass to the efforts of the British Institute of Innkeeping
Training has finally come of age in the pubs sector. Only a few years ago pub managers may have been able to change a barrel or add up the week’s takings, but were not required to know about catering, wine selections or marketing.
Now there is a challenge to old-fashioned drinking dens from more upmarket branded pubs. Even old-style pubs are being forced by competition and the growing demands of the public to replace the menu of stale sandwiches and hotpot and offer decent food, coffee, wine and, not least, good service.
Recruitment problems and competition from other leisure activities are forcing licensed retailers to invest in training and development and create career paths that can take a bartender to managership of a pub turning over £2m a year.
Spearheading the changes is the British Institute of Innkeeping, which represents 15,500 pubs, and in February held its 10th National Innkeeping Training Awards.
The awards are part of a sustained campaign by the BII to raise standards in the industry and the institute has developed a range of qualifications that are now recognised by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority and can be accepted in the national qualifications framework.
“Traditionally the sector has regarded training with some suspicion because they see it as going back to the classroom, but our message is that training delivers commercial benefits,” says BII deputy director John Walker.
“There has been a big change in the High Street in the last few years and pubs must now compete with multiplex cinemas and other leisure outlets.”
Training is growing in importance given the increasing complexity of running pubs, particularly in large city centre premises.
Managing a pub has also become increasingly big business, with prime sites for brands like All Bar One and JD Wetherspoon turning over vast sums of money.
The average JD Wetherspoon pub, for example, turns over £23,000 a week, or £1.15m a year and that can rise