This week MCA takes five minutes with Peach Pubs co-founder Hamish Stoddart. He discusses the increasing challenges to add value to pubs, discusses why blogging can make a difference and why he wishes he could spend more time in the wild

What’s your main business priority for the coming year?

To find some really great pubs that we can add value to. And that is hard. The price to buy new pubs is fairly tough in the market, building costs and the structural costs of developing gastro pubs are high. It’s hard to get the opportunity to create value with old sites that need to be put back into good condition. They require good kitchens, good design. I feel you cannot afford at the moment to get it wrong. There are more casual dining opportunities, so standards are generally rising, pricing is competitive for food, and good design is now commonplace. It’s a tough battleground but one which we can win with our people and service.

What is the best marketing campaign you have seen in the past 12 months?

I really like a great blog campaign. I find good ones engaging and I do actually buy products as a result. My current favourite is Zapier.

Where did you eat your best meal over the past year?

My favourite place - a waterside restaurant called Trebol in Mahon in Menorca. It strikes the balance of good service, familiarity, friendship and relaxation. Classic lobster and fish dishes are served by long term old school waiters in a beautiful casual way. It’s what I think a great gastro experience should be - a comfortable place to go and relax with good friends, good wine and good food. I was there last August.

Which business in the sector provides the best experience?

One word. Peach.

What is your main concern for the sector?

The squeeze on margin that will drive out service and experience. Costs are inflating both rates and rents, wages are going up due to regulatory costs and skills shortages. Guest prices are under pressure because there are more people swamping the market thinking they’re going to make money or building more and more capacity. We are now great restaurateurs in the UK but we need to encourage eating out of home by be able to offer experience at prices that work for the guest.

Which other business would you most like to run and why?

I own 20% of an eco-safari lodge in the Maasai Mara in Kenya that aims to help save the community and wildlife. It’s called House in the Wild. I go for three weeks a year but would like to go and plant myself out there for longer each year to truly make a difference. Africa is simply the most exciting place in the world to visit. Everyone should go once in their life.