Pub People Company’s operations director Andrew Crawford has told MCA the group has the scope to increase food sales by 25% as well as improving margins, as a result of a new review.

The group took on former Greene King head of food development David George earlier this year, which Crawford said was a “a statement of intent” in terms of where it wanted to take its food offer.

The 54-strong operator this week opened Punch lease the Nag’s Head in East Leake, Loughbrough. Crawford said it would operate under Pub People’s cask ale model.

The group is also about to re-open freehold site Bunkers Hill in Nottingham after a £100,000 refit. The conversion sees the pub offering food for the first time, with the company’s burger and hot dog offer being implemented.

Pub People Co opened its first brewery earlier this year – the Pentrich Brewing Co, based in Ripley, Derbyshire. The facility, which specialises in keg and craft beer products, supplies some Pub People sites and also sells into the local free trade. Crawford said it had already gained traction and was an exciting development for the group.

On David George’s impact, Crawford said: “Having someone of David’s experience and knowledge has been a huge boost to a company of our size and almost immediately he’s had a really positive impact. I see it as a real statement of intent for a company of our size. We recognise that food will be one of the engines of growth for us and he will be the fulcrum of that.

“He’s conducting a review at the moment of our food offers, including our Fresh & Local offer, and he’s putting some good processes and procedures in place. Where David’s experience is proving invaluable to us is not just on the consumer side but also when it comes to compliance and logistics and making sure we are fit for purpose going forward.

“We’re in the pub food market and today that’s not going to change. In the future we may be looking at other types of operation but for the short and medium term we are fully focussed on pub food. That’s not just about sales – it’s about managing margin, spend per head, customer loyalty and looking at the return on investment.

“I think David will be able to optimise and release a massive amount of potential and I think we could see another 25% on our turnover with a good margin.”