Punch Taverns plans £1m equipment splurge

UK pub chain Punch Taverns has kicked off a programme that aims to put catering equipment into establishments that don’t currently have any sort of food offering.

Landlords will be encouraged to invest in off-the-shelf equipment packages as part of a project that could see more than £1m spent on commercial kitchen kit over the next five years.

Speaking exclusively to Catering Insight, Chris Webb, catering development executive at Punch Taverns, said it was a “big priority” for the group to help licensees open pub kitchens that are presently closed through lack of equipment, space or expertise.

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“I have currently got about 130 closed kitchens on my territory [Midlands and Yorkshire] at the moment, so there is quite a lot to go for and I am looking to reduce that by 30 this year. There is a five-year plan to get them all up and running,” revealed Webb.

With around 100 sites in the south of the country identified as being in the same predicament, as many as 250 licensed pubs could have facilities to offer their customers a food choice by 2017 if Punch has its way.

The group has developed four ‘kitchen in a box’ packages for partners that do not currently earn any income from food but have space within their premises for that to change.

The most basic package costs around £1,000 and consists of a small tabletop fryer, undercounter freezer, commercial microwave and griddle, with the price rising to £4,500 for the most comprehensive suite. If every pub the company is targeting went for the most expensive option, it would equate to more than £1.1m being spent on new catering kit.

Punch’s team of catering development executives provide landlords with advice on the type of equipment they should consider installing based on the food menu they intend to introduce. Their role also involves striking group-wide deals with catering equipment brands to secure prices that licensees would not be able to achieve independently.

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