Stonegate sees record surge in publican applications

The UK’s largest pub company had a record-breaking year in 2023.

The UK’s largest pub company had a record-breaking year in 2023 when it came to the number of publican enquiries it received. 

Stonegate Group says this is due to its new recruitment website and strategic marketing activity.  

The company saw a 46% surge in enquiries compared to the previous year, with over 600 received in one four-week period alone.

Such a reinvigorated interest in working for the business is something CEO David McDowall talked to Pub & Bar about in February's exclusive lead interview.

With a little help from marketing  

Increased engagement and partner applications, Stonegate says, have also been achieved through the company's strategic marketing initiatives, including targeted social media campaigns and promotions at the end of 2023. Campaigns on Black Friday and the '12 Days of Christmas' generated a significant interest with prospective publicans. 

The Black Friday campaign placed the spotlight on 40 pubs offering short-term financial promotions and saw high levels of engagement, resulting in six new partnerships. 

Stonegate's ‘12 Days of Christmas’ campaign offered daily incentives on social media from 25 December to 5 January, including rent holidays, deposit contributions and marketing support paid for a years. The campaign led to a 60% rise in website views and a 142% increase in users compared to the previous year, with over 30 direct enquiries.

Stonegate now aims to track how many participants transition to tenancy agreements by the end of March. 

"We are thrilled with the success of our publican recruitment efforts in 2023, driven by our commitment to leveraging technology, bolstered partner support and creating impactful campaigns," says Maria Pillans, director of recruitment – publicans and operators at Stonegate Group. "Ensuring every site is positioned for success across our diverse portfolio is a key pillar in our mission to bring people together through our passion for pubs, bars and venues. At Stonegate, we are dedicated to empowering our partners with the tools and support they need to thrive in their businesses." 

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