The Benefits of Training to Pub Retailers: A Study for the Punch Pub Company

By Lashley, Conrad; Rowson, Bill | Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Management, August 2003 | Go to article overview

The Benefits of Training to Pub Retailers: A Study for the Punch Pub Company


Lashley, Conrad, Rowson, Bill, Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Management


This paper reports on a research project that evaluated the impact of training prevision for tenants and lessees of the Punch Pub Company. Training provision by the company aims to support new tenants and lessees who are taking on one of the company's pubs for the first time, or who are in receipt of an investment grant from the company, or who are developing marketing skills. The research involved 100 telephone interviews from 563 participants on four programs, and who were also "operators in situ". In these cases it was possible to explore changes in operational performance after the operator in situ had attended the program. The research confirmed that on all four programs' business performance improved after the programs. A substantial majority of interviewees reported that sales and profits had grown as a result of actions they had taken afterwards. The paper suggests both individual tenants and lessees, and the company gained from these programs.

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The Punch Pub Company is undertaking a substantial investment in the training and development of tenants and lessees of pub and bar properties in the company's estate. The following reports on a research project that explored the impact of these programs on business performance in the participating pubs.

This research builds on an earlier project that explored the benefits of training programs aimed at new tenant/ lessees and existing tenant/lessees in receipt of an investment grant (Lashley, Lincoln, & Rowson, 2001). The report is also informed by research projects undertaken for the Hospitality Training Foundation (HTF, 2001a; 2001b; 2002), and the North West Tourism Network (Lashley, Thomas, & Rowson, 2002). These prior studies show that business benefits do flow from an investment in training and development. Unfortunately firms are not always able to appreciate the benefits from training activities, because they use narrow measures of performance appraisal that fail to capture the full array of benefits from training to retailers, staff and customers (Brander-Brown & McDonnell, 1995).

Within the Punch Pub Company context this situation is further complicated because many of the tenants and lessees are in effect small independent firms, and many of the smallest firms are highly reluctant to invests time and other resources in training (Thomas et al., 2000). Earlier studies have shown that "lifestyle" businesses constitute a significant proportion of small firms operating in the sector and these are less likely to recognise training and development needs (Beaver & Lashley, 1998). Furthermore, a number of studies show that while salaried managers and small firm owners are able to identify skill shortages and skills gaps in recruits and existing employees, few reflect on their own management development needs (Department for Education and Employment; DfEE, 1999, 2000a, 2000b; Lashley et al., 2002). Yet management skills are at the root of many of the industry's problems and difficulties. One report stated:

   Without a more skilled managerial cadre it is hard
   to envisage how any effort aimed at systemic
   improvement and upgrading in the strategic managerial
   capacity of the sector can succeed.
   The ability of management to analyse, develop
   coherent long-term plans and offer the practical
   and strategic leadership needed to promote and
   manage the transition to a higher quality, higher
   value added approach to competition is a prerequisite
   for creating a world class sector (DfEE
   1999, p. 43).

Any ambition to grow sales volumes, and improve business value through increased retail activity within the Punch business is likely to be critically dependent on the skills, abilities, talents and motivations of the tenants and lessees who operate their pubs. This report investigates the outcomes of attempts to improve tenant and lessee management skills and abilities through four programs.

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