Spirit Pubs


Post merger integration

Spirit Group was a managed pub operator demerged from Punch Taverns in 2002. It acquired Scottish & Newcastle’s retail business, more than doubling the estate to 2500 pubs before itself being re-acquired by Punch in 2006. Spirit was acquired by Greene King in 2015.

​In its first period of independence from 2002-2006, Spirit was led by the dynamic Karen Jones, founder of Cafe Rouge and a staunch believer in customer focus. We were asked in to streamline the company’s capital and commercial governance processes, which had been in a tangle since the estate was acquired from Allied Domecq. And then the fun began.

Spirit acquired S&NR and went from £500M to £1.7B in sales overnight. Synergies from the combined 34 formats were there to be had, but would take hard work. We were asked to stay, and help. Because of my multisite catering background, I got the field ops PMI project. We worked hard with the ops team to come to an optimum span of work, both numeric and geographic, for regional managers. We made hard decisions to close and combine formats.

​We looked at the pub managers’ capacity to cope with the great volume and diversity of corporate and commercial initiatives flowing from central support teams, and redesigned the initiative launch process to fit real capacity more closely, boosting the potential for proper implementation and benefit realisation.

​Once the restructuring was complete, and based on prior experience at Starbucks, I led creation of an Operations Services function to support better field implementation, secondment to which became a required step in the development of new Ops leaders.

Susan was quickly able to assess the company and culture and suggest great strategic ideas which she was able to translate into detailed actionable plans. She was extremely diligent, hard working and had great problem solving skills, coupled with the ability to listen.

Debra Wood, former Finance Director of Spirit and CFO of Libertys, Jigsaw, Figleaves and Soho House Group