Overall ranking: 85 (new entry)
Pub and bar operator ranking: 14 (new entry)
Selling beer in the shadow of JD Wetherspoon might make many pub operators think twice, but Kris Gumbrell and Simon Bunn are quite relaxed about many of their Brewhouse & Kitchen outlets trading close to a JDW. "The competition doesn't faze us, we just pick up a different kind of market," says Gumbrell. Having opened their first outlet in Portsmouth in early 2013, co-founders Gumbrell and Bunn now head up a business comprising 18 venues, with further openings in the pipeline. Brewhouse & Kitchen forecasts turnover to be £18m in 2017.
What we think
It's about the beer, but it's not all about the beer. Brewhouse & Kitchen brews more than one million pints a year, with each venue having its own in-house brewer and a range of 20-plus beer and ciders, including a selection brewed on-site and exclusive to the individual bar. However, the business generates around 40% of turnover from food. Gumbrell and Bunn have tapped as much into the casual-dining boom as they have into the craft beer phenomenon.
Gumbrell's track record in the industry includes stints at Greene King and running London-based Convivial London Pubs as well as S&N Retail, while Bunn worked at S&N Retail, Whitbread and Mitchells & Butlers. The acquisition of that first site in Portsmouth, ironically a former JD Wetherspoon, was funded through an Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS). Much of the brand's subsequent growth has come through funds generated by existing sites.
The food offer, featuring a menu built around home-cooked dishes with a focus on groups of friends sharing, has proven different enough to build Brewhouse & Kitchen a following beyond the core craft beer aficionado - although dishes such as the menu's flagship beer-can chicken, cooked in the house beer, and the fact that all dishes have a suggested beer match, keep the focus clear.
Alongside expansion plans, the business is broadening. Sales of beer masterclasses and brewery experience days, sold as gifts, more than doubled year-on-year in the run-up to Christmas 2016, and did well again in 2017. Around two-thirds of these sales are booked and redeemed in the venues during the first quarter, generating business at a quiet time of year.
Pointing to the continued growth in the US of similar concepts, such as McMenamins, and BJ's Restaurants and Brewhouse, Gumbrell says confidently: "Brewhouse & Kitchen is entirely scalable."
The group's most recent set of published annual accounts showed a 79.5% year-on-year increase in turnover for the year to 24 September 2016, up from £4.9m to £8.8m, with a pre-tax loss of £672,634 compared with a pre-tax loss of £818,503 the previous year.
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