Seafood Pub Company’s managing director Joycelyn Neve has told MCA that the group is searching for more sites in Yorkshire and developing is accommodation offer.

The group will open its first two sites in Yorkshire in the coming months having acquired the Red Lion pub in Harrogate (which will re-open as The Inn at South Stainley)and the Fleece in Addingham. The latter is a leasehold with Punch and Neve said she is keen to explore further leases alongside the group’s traditional growth model of buying freeholds.

She said the company was keen to establish a hub in Yorkshire and that the Lake District was an area well suited to its model.

She said the increasing appetite for staycations has put the group in a good position and further opportunities to expand the accommodation offer in the current portfolio are being explored.

She added: “Trade is good, especially in the accommodation side of our business. Our food has been popular with our customers for some time but we’ve also seen an increase in people coming to stay at our venues.

“We are fortunate to have some incredibly quaint venues which sit in some of the most picturesque parts of the country, so guests are able to enjoy the best of both worlds by staying with us.

Whilst we will always be true to our food heritage, we also see lots of scope to develop our accommodation offer. We are seeing more movement in the staycation market and, given the location of our venues, we are in a good position for this type of trade.

“We have numerous venues which already offer accommodation and will be looking to develop others which have the scope to expand.”

On the company’s approach to recruitment, Neve said: “We have quite a flexible recruitment model and don’t restrict ourselves to simply advertising for vacant roles. It sounds a little clichéd but our policy is built around finding the best talent at all times. If we find somebody we feel is suited to our business, we will often create roles within our organisation to suit them. I’ve never heard anybody say ‘we have too many good people working for us’.

“We have a roaming and openings team which enable us to be flexible and support all sites during peak times. Whilst a face of the business is essential in each site, this doesn’t have to be a General Manager. This person who the locals connect with can be the Head Chef or a Bar Manager. That means we can make the most of the individual specialist skills our team have in more than one site. This also helps when we find good people who want to come and work with us. The flexibility leaves us with many options.

“We’ve always believed in harvesting our talent so we will always look to promote from within and allow people to create their own career paths. If they wish to specialise and there is a business need, we will support them with this. We have a great team, many of whom have been with us from the outset. Its important that we continue to give them opportunities for growth, as well as nurturing new talent.”

She said the core Seafood Pub Company model remained strong, adding: “We have refined the two types of offer we have e.g. destination venues serving our premium seafood offer and the more suburban family focussed venues, with a younger drinking trade. These dovetail perfectly into each other and give us a good basis for growth.”

On the challenges for the year to come, she said: “There will undoubtedly be some market challenges. It’s up to companies like ours to be agile and create experiences and offers which can serve the changing needs of the market. We know what we are good at and will ensure that we stay true to our core values as a business, even in a potentially challenging economic climate.”