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Warwickshire pub raises a glass after hitting pre-covid sales

A south Warwickshire pub is raising a glass after reaching pre-Covid sales levels following a five-figure investment and business support.

Mark Peggram, the landlord of The Crown in Tiddington, says around £50,000 has been invested in the popular venue on internal and external décor as customer levels have started to increase.

The work has been carried out in conjunction with Stonegate Pub Partners and Wensleys building contractors.

The pub has been a microcosm of the issues facing businesses in the region, with Covid restrictions, energy prices, food inflation and working from home all having an effect on the bottom line.

Mark has tapped into support on offer through the Project Warwickshire Business Support Scheme delivered by Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, on behalf of Warwickshire County Council, to help boost trade.

It led to one-to-one support from Chamber business adviser Russell Grant who has helped Mark and the team create a marketing plan to drive more customers to the pub.

The team has also attended social media workshops in a bid to raise the pub’s online profile.

Mark, who has recently employed a new head chef, said he was more confident about the future after a tricky period for the pub trade having been running the Crown, with his wife, Claire, for 12 years.

He said: “There is no denying that the past three years have been a challenge and even before that pubs were facing a range of issues.

“We’ve had lockdowns, rising costs and, also, changing habits to contend with.

“This is the first spring and summer where we’ve been able to operate without restrictions since Covid and we wanted to give ourselves the best possible chance of getting more customers through the door.

“We have invested in improving the overall look and feel of the pub with decoration and signage to make it feel really welcoming.

“When the Chamber got in touch to say there was support available too, we decided to apply because we saw it as a real opportunity to make sure we were doing everything we could to market ourselves.

“Russell has been really helpful and assisted us to create a bespoke marketing plan, which we are now using to grow the business. The workshops have made us much more active on social media, which is so important these days.

“We also explored grant funding opportunities and Russell referred me to the Warwickshire Business Green Recovery Grant Scheme. We also discussed recruitment and retention issues and Russell made a referral to the Warwickshire Skills hub, who have been very helpful and has led to us taking on a new member of staff.

“We’re now back up to pre-Covid levels and I am confident we can go beyond that. As more people return to local offices, that increases our lunchtime trade and we have a caravan park opposite which drives business our way.”

Project Warwickshire, which was set up by Warwickshire County Council as part of the CW Business: Start, Grow and Scale programme, is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund and has been delivered by the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce.

Russell Grant, business adviser at the Chamber, said: “We are thrilled to have supported Mark and the team at the Crown.

“The pub industry has been hit hard by the pandemic and was already under huge pressure before that, so to see the Crown performing so well and to have hit pre-pandemic levels is great news.

“We’d urge businesses in need of support to get in touch with the team at the Chamber to find out how we can help.”

Councillor Martin Watson, portfolio holder for economy with Warwickshire County Council, said: “The county council has a range of funding streams that support businesses so that, when we work with partners, we are able to provide a wide range of support and solutions.

“I am delighted that The Crown is seeing such an upsurge in business.  The knock-on effect of its progress, which is one of the important criteria when we assess applications for support, is greater opportunities for employment in and around the local community.

“This, in turn, provides a great boost to the local economy and is great news for the entire area.”

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Pictured (left to right): Russell Grant (Chamber), Hayley Lineker (Warwickshire County Council), Mark Peggram (The Crown), Councillor Tim Sinclair (Warwickshire County Council).

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