Provenance Inns co-founder Michael Ibbotson has told M&C Report that he will be focusing on accommodation to drive future growth of the company.

Ibbotson said the company had rebranded itself as Provenance Inns & Hotels, despite only one of its seven properties being a hotel, to underline the importance of accomodation in its offer.

Provenance has opened two sites this year, the West Park Hotel in Harrogate and the Black Bull Inn in the North Yorkshire village of Moulton. Ibbotson said work to add 16 letting rooms to the Black Bull should be completed by next summer.

Going forward Ibbotson said that while he enjoys the proximity to his estate he would consider branching out of his Yorkshire heartland for the right opportunity.

He said: “Certainly if are looking at hotels, if we had more we would not want them as close together as the pubs.

“But, I would not want to understate the potential that still exists within Yorkshire.”

On the drive for accommodation, Ibbotson said: “It gives you so much more scope and it’s a godsend for midweek business. If you have six rooms full on a Monday night then you know you’ll have at least six tables full for dinner.”

But he warned other pub operators considering a move into accommodation that “it has to be a quality offer or the customers will find you out”.

He added: “You can’t think of yourself as a pub with a few rooms on the side. Customers know what they want and they have standards that you will be expected to meet. En-suite and WiFi are nothing to shout about these days, it’s the absolute least people expect.

“It would be better to have three quality rooms than to six mediocre ones.

“The things to get right are a really good quality bed, a shower that produces a proper flow, not just a trickle and to give the guest some form of control. Some like their room freezing, some boiling but if they don’t have an element of control over their surroundings they will resent that.”

Ibbotson said he and co-founder Chris Blundell had a “hit list” of properties they would be interested in acquiring but said for the next six months the focus would be on consolidation of the existing estate.   

He said the company had set up a headquarters at the Punch Bowl Inn, in Marton-Cum-Grafton, to house the accounts and operations team.

He said: “We have grown from a headcount of 60 four years ago to 250 now, so we need to take stock before growing any bigger.”