Caterer and Hotelkeeper 100: Stephen Goodyear, Young's

06 December 2012 by
Caterer and Hotelkeeper 100: Stephen Goodyear, Young's

Overall ranking: 29 (NEW ENTRY)

Pub ranking: 5 (NEW ENTRY)

Stephen Goodyear - Snapshot

Stephen Goodyear is chief executive of Young and Co's Brewery, the London-based pub and hotel operator. The business began with the purchase of 80 pubs and the historic Ram Brewery site in Wandsworth in 1831, and today operates 156 managed pubs, including the Geronimo Inns business acquired in 2010, and 81 tenancies. In the year to April 2012, the company reported pre-tax profits up by 17.4% to £21.3m on revenue up by 25.5% to £178.9m.

Stephen Goodyear - Career guide

Stephen Goodyear joined the Courage brewing business in 1974 at the age of 18. He worked at Courage for more than 20 years before he was head-hunted by Young's in 1995, initially as sales director. He was appointed to the board in 1996 as sales and marketing director, and became chief executive in 2003.

Stephen Goodyear - What we think

Young's is undoubtedly a very different business today than it was when Stephen Goodyear arrived at the Ram Brewery in 1996. At the time, the company was very much a traditional family brewer, with the iconic figure of company chairman and family patriarch John Young having a very hands-on role.

The Ram Brewery in Wandsworth was part of the London landscape - as were the beers, from a pint of ‘Ordinary' to a ‘Ram and Spesh' cocktail of Special Bitter and RamRod strong bottled ale. The pubs, although mainly freehold and well located, were more often than not reassuringly shabby and in need of a little TLC. There were also legendary AGMs, where dedicated investors holding just one share apiece made the most of the hospitality on offer.

Move on 15 years, it's a different picture. The brewery site in Wandsworth has been sold, and as of last year, Young's has also sold its stake in the Wells and Young's brewing joint venture to partner Charles Wells, which brews beers for Young's pubs under a licence agreement.

The pub estate is far better invested, having been refined by a series of well-planned acquisitions, selective disposals, and, most significantly the addition of the Geronimo Inns business, appealing to well-heeled urban professionals and bringing Young's firmly into the gastropub era.

The shareholder structure has also been reformed, giving the family less direct influence on decisions. The passing of John Young in 2006 seems to be mark a genuine change, with Goodyear now leading a team of retail professionals.

In an interview with a City journalist in 2008, Goodyear said: ‘We care about tradition, but we had to make
strategic decisions that meant huge changes…We don't hide behind the family. We run this company for the benefit of the shareholders."'

More recently, the operations team has been strengthened with a dedicated hotel team, focused on the growing accommodation side of the operation, while Geronimo managing director Rupert Cleveley has joined the main board. Goodyear told Caterer & Hotelkeeper last year: "We are setting ourselves right at the premium end of the market with really good food, good wine, and a good selection of beer. We are training all the staff across the company to make Young's very special. That is why we bought Geronimo, which is extremely complementary to what we do."

Goodyear and his team have undoubtedly added value to the Young's business. The question being asked in some quarters of the City is how that value could be realised, with one suggestion recently mooted being a private equity backed MBO by Goodyear's team. Whether or not that happens, the prospects for the business look healthy, as Goodyear summed up for the company's annual results: "We are clearly focused on generating profitable growth from our pub estate and on maximising value for shareholders."

Revenue surges ahead at Young's managed houses>>

Young's spends £3m on developing boutique hotel with pub>>

Young's puts 14 pubs up for sale>>

Young's revenue up 33% driven by Geronimo and hotels>>

Young's website>>

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