The Story So Far...
Moving The White Lion to Community Management will be a difficult and complex process. At times, it may seem that nothing is happening, or that things have gone quiet. Rest assured that a huge amount of work is happening behind the scenes. Here are some of the obstacles that we have already overcome:
The first thing we needed to understand was whether the community wanted a pub in the village.
A team of volunteers conducted a door-drop survey to answer this and many other questions. The team hand-delivered and collected surveys to the entire village and surrounding communities. The answer was very clear: 95% of respondents said, yes, they wanted a pub in the village.
The survey provided several other useful insights into what type of pub people wanted, how frequently they felt they would use the pub and when they would like it to be open. Armed with this insight, and a mandate from the community to move forward, we began working on the plan in more detail..
Business Plan Created
The White Lion has always struggled, and we wanted to establish its financial viability. The pub is small, has limited outside space and does not have a car park. We needed to understand whether these limitations made it impossible for the pub to reliably turn a profit. Although a community model means the pub does not require a huge profit, it also cannot lose money. The model is based on a salaried Manager or Management Team so we also needed confidence that we would be able to meet those salary commitments.
We took historical financial data from Palmers, from the previous Landlord & Landlady and from volunteers with experience in the pub & brewery trade to build a financial model. We fed in scenarios based on different footfall numbers, opening times and spend-per-customer to conclude that, yes, it is possible to run the pub at a small profit, even with the limitations mentioned. Details of the financial model and the business plan will be published on this site when fundraising starts.
After many hours of negotiations with Palmers, we believe we have arrived at a deal which works for both parties.
Some details of the contract are, of course, confidential, but we have agreed in principle that the pub with be offered on a tenancy basis, initially for three years, with a break clause available to either party. A tenancy is far better for the community than a lease as it places responsibility for most repairs & maintenance to the brewery, thereby removing a lot of risk.
Like all Palmers pubs, rent will be based on a percentage of turnover which means we pay less in the quieter months – again, lowering our risk. Palmers have also agreed to give us a hiatus period before the agreement starts to establish our legal structure, raise funds and, hopefully, refurbish the interior of the pub.
No contract has yet been signed, but both sides have indicated their commitment, in principle, to this arrangement. Palmers have agreed to renovate the exterior of the building at a cost of several thousand pounds, a decision which we believe shows their commitment to the pub’s future.
Village Hall Meeting
Photo credit: www.broadwindsor.org
With a solid financial plan in place and agreement in principle on a deal we could work with, the team took the proposal back to the community for discussion. A meeting was convened at Comrades Hall and attended by more than 70 people – a huge turnout given the social restrictions we’ve been living with recently.
David Leader outlined the current situation, Fraser Hughes fed back on the survey results and Luke Pickering talked about the financials. The floor was then opened up for residents’ questions and a valuable discussion got underway. At the end of the session, David Leader asked for a show of hands to gauge support for the project and the group voted unanimously for the team to continue with the project.
The meeting also resulted in scores of offers of help from members of the community. Broadwindsor residents have expertise in everything from gardening to social media. If you would like to volunteer, you can do so here.