Craft Beer Co, the craft beer pub operator led by Martin Hayes, is to launch a flagship site in London’s West End, after securing its first site with Punch Taverns, Rudy’s Revenge in Covent Garden.

Hayes said that the move was a tipping point for the group: “We have always wanted to take our business into the West End, but until now, we have had to look at sites that most operators couldn’t see a future in, or, sites where we were confident that our unique offer could work where others might fail.

“Thus far, we have built a well-respected, five-unit business, with each outlet showing strong growth. This move into the West End is a ‘game changer’ for us.

“As many operators will know, when you start out, it’s difficult to get freeholders to take you seriously. We lost out on many sites early on because I believe we were seen as a young business that may not stand the test of time. However, we are now trading really well across our estate and we are attracting, not only people who understand what ‘craft beer’ is really about, but also people who are seeking a great quality drinking experience in a comfortable environment.”

“I’m delighted that we have been able to do this deal with Punch. I hope that it’s the first of many ventures together.”

The company will operate their lease agreement from 2 April, where they will be changing the pub name to ‘The Craft Beer Co. Covent Garden’. The pub will re-open after refurbishment on 9 May.

The group, which opened its fifth site in Clapham at the end of 2013, has also incorporated a new food offer into three of its sites called 40Burgers, that Hayes hinted could eventually become a standalone format.

He said the company would look at sites in cities such as Liverpool, Manchester and Birmingham for its core format, while also continuing to build its presence in the capital.

Craft Beer Co opened its first site in London’s Clerkenwell three years ago. It also operates pubs in Brixton and Islington as well as a site in Brighton.

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