Brakspear has invested £750,000 in its first managed pub, The Bull on Bell Street in Henley-on-Thames. The Listed building is situated next to Brakspear’s head office, and was part of the original brewery at various points in its 700-year history. The pub was trading under the name Ko-Ko’s until closing for redevelopment in January. Its reopening has created a total of 18 jobs locally.
Brakspear’s chief executive, Tom Davies, comments: “The Bull has been one of Henley’s best-known pubs for centuries, and it has been a joy to restore it. We’re confident that it will quickly become a favourite among residents and visitors to the town, offering top-quality food and drink, a relaxed atmosphere and professional, attentive service.
“Opening The Bull as a managed rather than tenanted pub marks a new direction for Brakspear. We are continuously reviewing our business model and looking for new ways to do things – not changing for change’s sake, but taking opportunities that will deliver success. In the competitive pub market, operators have to be innovating all the time to stay ahead.”
Design firm, Hollington, worked with Brakspear’s in-house design manager, Stephanie Dennett, to create a traditional pub-meets-modern-brasserie feel at the 190-cover site. While much of the property’s heritage is preserved, a contemporary aesthetic has been added thanks to glass walls, which maximise natural light, and low sofas ideal for informal gatherings. The large outside patio features booths for drinking and dining.
“We’re excited about reopening The Bull on Bell Street as our first managed pub,” Tom adds. “It adds a new dimension and set of challenges, which are important in making sure our business evolves continuously.
“We don’t have a plan to open a fixed number of managed pubs within a certain time, but we also don’t rule out further managed sites. We’re going to trade The Bull before making any further decisions.”