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“There are two key priorities for us as a team at the moment – one is to ensure that we continue to strengthen the core business and make sure that we deal with the challenges that we face today, while secondly, ensure that we fully harvest the benefits of the acquisition.“So, we’ve said to the market that we’ll deliver £35 million synergies, and I’m confident that we’ll deliver that ahead of plan.
Career succession planning is “not just something you do once a year when you have a conversation over a coffee of ‘how was your year?
’ You live and breathe – ‘what’s your development plan, what are you looking to develop? And then in terms of career – ‘where are you today?
’ And some of it has been blending that communication piece together,” Davis says.
When it comes to talent retention, training and development have played a significant role, says Davis.
The pub industry itself has experienced major changes in the last decade, with the smoking ban entering into force in 2007 and the rise of the supermarket in the sale of beer and alcohol.
Davis describes the smoking ban as an event that “fundamentally changed the nature of the pub”, with pre-2007 data showing that 25% of UK consumers, and 75% of pubgoers, were smokers.The acquisition has generated challenges, the most difficult being combining the two companies and creating one set of values and one vision.A key strategic decision taken by Greene King has been to keep the former Spirit office open in Burton, near Birmingham, rather than relocate the 300 roles and processes to Greene King’s headquarters in Bury St Edmunds.There was quite a lot of synergy with the spirit business in terms of where their assets were located, so we could get a real national reach across the UK.“Secondly, when you look at the brand portfolio, there were some brands that Spirit had that were very attractive – Chef and Brewer, Flaming Grill, Taylor Walker pubs in London. So, if you put two medium-sized companies together, you’ve got the benefits of scale and that underpinned the acquisition so the shareholder could see where we were going to create value for them while developing stronger, bigger brands across the UK and getting a better reach to our customers.” Coordinating his arrival to Greene King with the acquisition announcement, Davis says the mantra for the past two years has been “building the best and taking the best from both companies”. “It’s continuing to harvest the benefits,” he confirms.What are the next couple of roles you want to do over the next three to five years? ’” So, what does the future look like for Greene King, and are there future acquisitions on the horizon? “But for now we are firmly focused on maximising the benefits and full potential of the Spirit deal and making it a success.“What we’ve clearly articulated to the team and the market now is that our strategy is to be the best pub company in the UK, and when we say that we mean that it’s the best for our customers, the best for our team, the best for our communities and also best for our shareholders.The move “probably caused just a little bit more angst around people because some roles moved from Bury to Burton and some in the opposite direction,” he admits.“But, strategically, it’s the right decision to have made,” he concludes.There were a couple of strategic reasons behind the acquisition of the Spirit Pub Company, Davis reveals.“Firstly, Greene King was very well represented in London and the south-east, East Anglia, and pockets around the UK.