Fuller’s CEO Simon Emeny believes the pub sector is in a strong position to bounce back - despite new challenges over inflation and cost of living pressures.

He told MCA’s Pub Conference that compared to forced closure, the latest set of challenges would be less damaging.

Emeny told delegates: “I would love to believe that our challenges are in the rear-view mirror now Covid-19 is less of an issue. But now we enter a fresh set of challenges

“I wouldn’t underestimate these are difficult to navigate, but compared to being closed… I believe we’re in a really strong position. 

“We’ve learnt to be adaptable and agile in the face of storms – and I think that will leave every single one of you in a better place to navigate the next two years.”

Fuller’s has been through a lot, but now has the “perfect platform” to come through the next set of challenges “really strongly”, he said.

“We have a brilliantly balanced estate… we are fundamental believers in the value of a manged and tentmate business working in tandem.”

He described how 92% of the estate is freehold, with a carefully handpicked spread across the most affluent areas of southern England: “really stunning pubs and hotels were discerning customers want to go to have experiences and feel happy about life.”

Meanwhile, the pub company is getting younger, with a “youthful and energised” workforce of 5,000 people, the company having transformed its staff proposition.

Having repositioned the Fuller’s brand, removing the heavy association with cask ale following the sale of the beer business, Fuller’s is also attracting a younger customers - a trend which is aligned with its product range, interior design and use of digital technologies.

“As one of elder statesmen in the team, I think it’s really motivating to see the business get more youthful,” Emeny said.

The pub leader proclaimed that “London is back” – with crowds in the capital not seen since the pandemic – despite the RMT rail strikes.

“This is a brilliant sector, which is brilliant at evolution. That’s going to put you in really good stead as we move forward,” the Fuller’s CEO added.

“If you contrast the hospitality sector with retail, which has been sleepwalking into the abyss, we continually change. You cannot replicate the Great brit pub experience online.”