Five things Peach Report learned about the Seafood Pub Company

The Seafood Pub Company and founder Joycelyn Neve—a speaker at CGA Peach’s 2020 Conference on 17 November—are under the spotlight in the latest issue of Peach Report. Here are five things we learned about the growing company

1 Food runs in the family
Neve hails from a family of fishermen—her father Chris turned a man-and-a-van fish delivery operation into a huge wholesale business—and combining fish with pubs was always her goal. “I grew up in and around catering and everything was focused on great produce and fish—it’s just how life was,” she remembers. “The Seafood Pub Company literally came from my two favourite things: seafood and pubs.”

2 Turning two is hard
Neve was just 25 when she launched her first pub, the Oyster & Otter in Feniscowles near Blackburn, but she was in for a shock when she acquired her second—the Assheton Arms in the conservation village of Downham near Clitheroe. “Going from one to two sites is definitely still the hardest thing we’ve ever done as a company… It’s the chicken and egg situation—you’ve only got one income stream so you can’t employ a second big team straight away.”

3 The company can reach ’18 to 20’ pubs
The Seafood Pub Company is now up to seven sites—all in Lancashire. The next two will be in the county too, but Neve then wants to go further afield, with Cumbria, north Yorkshire and Cheshire the first targets. She thinks the company can at least double in size without too much difficulty. “I want to control everything because it’s in my nature—but I don’t see why we can’t get to 18 or 20 sites and still have that oversight.” 

4 Pubs need to sweat their assets
Running rural pubs is a very different game to city ones, and Neve knows she has to sweat the company’s assets hard to sustain trade at quieter times, through things like midweek events and outside catering. “I don’t agree with that old idea of ‘build it and they will come’. Maybe at weekends, but everywhere is so competitive now. From Monday to Thursday you’ve got to go out and find the business and bring it in.” 

5 Today’s young people are tomorrow’s leaders
Another problem in the countryside is recruiting young talent. Neve has taken on the challenge by encouraging people to be ambitious and follow her own energetic approach. “We want to show that hard work will pay off. Get your head down and anything’s possible. You don’t need to do one sort of job for a couple of years, then another and then another. Just show me what you’re made of and how much you want it and you can have it.”