On the square
12 December, 2012
Spirit's value-driven pub-restaurant format has been one of the biggest winners through the economic dip. Peach Report runs the rule over the brand
The concept Fayre & Square is one of the sector’s Ronseal brands, delivering exactly what it says on the tin. The focus is firmly on no-nonsense value and a reliable, shared eating-out experience, playing to pubs’ long-established reputation for hospitality and generosity.
The story so far The pace has accelerated from a standing start in 2009, when Fayre & Square launched at the Rising Sun in Macclesfield. Since then it has grown at close to one pub overhaul a week, with 46 investments over the last year after 64 in 2011. Its estate is now at 145, and it trumped some strong competition to be named best pub brand at this year’s Publican Awards.
The people The concept was born out of efforts by parent Spirit Pub Company—or Punch as was—to pull together many of its managed pubs under coherent formats. Launched soon after the economy first took a dive, it quickly proved the right formula for the times and now accounts for one in five of Spirit’s managed pubs. It has also proved a good counterweight to the more upmarket Chef & Brewer format.
The look Fayre & Square’s interiors balance pub and restaurant, emphasizing warmth and plenty of visual brand cues like square booths and square lampshades. Outside, high-impact roadside signage spotlights its value offers and helps to pull in passing traffic.
Key selling points There is no escaping the value proposition at Fayre & Square, with everyday core offers like two meals for £10 backed by a raft of tactical deals across the menu. But while this is one of the names that has played best to consumers in recessionary times, interim head of brand Carol Rhead points out there is more to it than that. “Two for £10 remains at the core of the brand and is extremely important to our guests, [but] Fayre & Square allows a broader range of dishes to be included within the menu.” Dependability is important too. “The consistency of the offer is very important.”
Food and drink The Fayre & Square menu is a tour of pub favourites, and Rhead says it appeals on more than price. “The value proposition isn’t at the expense of food quality or quantity—you get a great plate of food for your money.” There’s a substantial children’s menu, a range of sub-600 calorie options, and Costa coffee reinforces quality by association. The quadrangular theme extends to the presentation of food on items like square burgers and square sharing plates.
Audience Fayre & Square sits in what Rhead calls the “highly competitive” family value sector, and much of its offer is built around families. Wacky Warehouse soft play areas are attached to many sites, offering an extra reason for families to visit, especially during dayparts. There are also plenty of highchairs, at-table play and the option to have children’s meals served first. Rhead claims around 70% of visitors say they are very likely to recommend Fayre & Square to friends and family.
Marketing Alongside the relentless price promos, Fayre & Square has stepped up its digital activity, building an email database of 250,000 people and finding a chatty voice on Facebook and Twitter. Events like Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day are a big marketing focus.
Future Spirit does not break out sales by format, but said in its last set of accounts that its managed pubs were outperforming the market as measured by the Coffer Peach Business Tracker, while food revenue was up 7% over the last year. Both upward trends will have been driven in large part by Fayre & Square, the fastest growing brand in Spirit’s stable over the last two years in terms of site investments. It has previously told analysts it might top 250 sites, and on the basis that consumer spending will remain squeezed, it seems likely that there is plenty more to come from Fayre & Square.