Fuller’s has pledged to maintain a “relentless focus” on high quality food as its pubs and hotels reopen – and acknowledged that supplier relationships will be absolutely crucial to the speed of recovery.
The 400-strong operator, which also runs a chain of boutique hotels, has invested heavily in chef development and kitchen infrastructure during the last five years to massively increase the scale of its food offer.
Chief executive Simon Emeny said it was vital that the group keeps a firm eye on the factors that had driven food sales prior to the pandemic.
He remarked: “As we adjust to life as a focused premium pubs and hotels business, our relentless focus on fantastic food continues. Underpinning our food agenda are two key constituents – well-trained and passionate chefs and wonderful ingredients. While the former continue to be inspired by their journey through the Chefs’ Guild, the latter are equally key.”
Fuller’s estate is predominately located in the South of England, with 44% of sites based inside the M25.
Mr Emeny said he expects the way in which Fuller’s engages with suppliers to have a huge bearing on how it bounces back from the lockdown.
“We always look to develop long-term partnerships with our suppliers, which has led to actions that range from delivering financial gains from forward buying meat, to acquiring a whole field of asparagus to ensure supply, to accessing the apprenticeship levy of our suppliers to further develop our own apprenticeship programme. As we rebuild our business in the coming months, these supplier relationships will be more important than ever.”
Over the past year, Fuller’s has seen further focus on vegetarian and vegan dishes, which continue to grow in popularity, as well as the classic Sunday roast – which Mr Emeny describes as “now the most important dining occasion in the pub week”.
“Sales of Sunday roasts have risen by 5% and an outstanding Sunday roast offer is, more than ever, the benchmark of a fantastic pub,” he said.
In a move to inspire its chefs to new heights, Fuller’s appointed Simon Rogan, the holder of five Michelin stars, as the honorary president of the Fuller’s Chefs’ Guild last year.
The move was aligned with its sponsorship of the Bocuse d’Or – the legendary international chefs’ competition – and aims to elevate the way food is regarded by its kitchen teams, the wider business and its customers.