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The Owls Nest

The Challenge

The Owls Nest formed part of a large acquisition Red Oak Taverns made in 2015. This pub is typical of many pubs acquired by Red Oak in the past, being extremely run down through lack of investment but in an excellent location and operated by an exceptional tenant couple with great standards. The opportunity was identified by one of Red Oak’s Business Development Managers who saw the potential in the site and in our Tenant Partners, Deborah and John, for the first major upgrade of a pub in his area – a venue to which our Business Development Manager could take prospective new Tenant Partners of Red Oak Taverns to demonstrate how we operate our business and work with our Tenant Partners.

The Solution

Deborah and John were a little sceptical to start with, noting the extent of the works that would be required to upgrade the pub. Indeed, the damp issues relating to the toilets and the upper floor, the large, cold, un-insulated lounge room and the poor internal and external appearance all contributed to the challenge ahead. However, working with Red Oak, our designers and contractors, Deborah and John were instrumental in ensuring that our design and upgrade works were fit for purpose, providing the zoning required to cater for both their current rugby league clientele and family customers alike, as well as appealing to new customers. Being a tied tenancy, Red Oak Taverns were able to commit substantial funds to upgrade the pub whilst asking our Tenant Partner to contribute by way of a sensible rent uplift within a substantive new lease, leaving Red Oak to take the ‘risk’ of generating the remainder of its return through increased barrelage. That risk is entirely manageable where we can bring together a fantastic new pub with quality Tenant Partner operators.

Deborah and John’s comments

John and myself have been tenants at The Owls Nest public house in St Helens since October 2010 and have worked tirelessly throughout that time to keep the pub profitable. We were always passionate and had a great belief that the pub had potential however our previous owners were in financial difficulty and had no money to invest in the building. This was frustrating from our point of view as  people are influenced by a pub’s appearance and although we have always had high standards its visual appeal let us down in a big way. So many times we have felt like giving up and throwing the towel in  but with a strong loyal customer base we soldiered on.

In August 2015 Red Oak Taverns bought out our previous owners and from the onset everything changed for the better. We have been given so much support. Repairs started to get done, all our legal requirements were brought up to date, POS kits started to arrive and then earlier this year, to our absolute delight we were given the wonderful news that the pub was going to be given a make over.

Works got under way early April 2016 and the pub had to close for the full month but WOW! is all I can say. What a transformation! We are so proud of the new look and absolutely delighted to be able to provide our precious customers with an establishment that they deserve. Our business has now been given a new identity and we are no longer frightened or embarrassed to try new things. New faces are venturing through our front door on a regular basis, all giving positive feedback and our passion and ambition has been revitalised because, at long last, our hard work and efforts have been rewarded with the support and back up from the landlord. It’s early days but the pub has already began to trade up. It’s been hard work as the business now possesses a different identity, we need to readdress staffing and are looking at changing our opening times but without a shadow of a doubt, we feel that we are now running a business with a future.

Red Oak Taverns have been our saving grace.

Deborah Cunningham

Tenant Partner, The Owls Nest

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