Ellis & Co Case Study: The Great British Pub Company

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What Mark Jarvis doesn’t know about running a great pub and restaurant probably isn’t worth knowing.

Mark’s CV is a roll call of some of the biggest names in the world of hospitality including stints at The Savoy and Le Pont de la Tour where Tony and Cherie Blair once dined with Bill and Hillary Clinton.

He also worked extensively in Austria and other parts of Central Europe and, more recently, had spells running Bar Lounge and Upstairs at the Grill in Chester.

Almost five years ago, Mark took the plunge of launching his own country pub and restaurant, The Chester Fields, in Bridge Trafford on the outskirts of Chester.

Ellis & Co was recommended to Mark and his business partner, who he met at boarding school in Sussex, by a local business support service.

Mark, 49, said: “After 25 years working in the pub and restaurant industry, I was confident we had a good plan for The Chester Fields, but we knew we needed a really good accountant to provide strong business and financial advice.

“I was introduced to Robert Ellis and found him to be different to your typical accountant. He was genuinely interested in our business and the guidance he gave us in those early days was invaluable.

“They covered all the essentials that an ambitious start-up needs including helping us to set up, regular management accounts and planning for growth.

“Our business is a little more complex than normal because we also have foreign investment, while they have also provided us with guidance on property matters.”

The business has grown rapidly. The Chester Fields now employs over 30 staff, the majority of whom are full-time and the company is aiming to open a second venue within the next 12 months.

Mark, who is the Managing Director, said: “Our business model is to try and do things which are a little bit outside of the box both in terms of the food and drink we serve as well as in other touches. For example, every photograph in the pub has something to do with either myself or my business partner.

“We do not have a set plan in terms of how many venues we plan to open in the next three to five years. We are more concerned about finding the right opportunities but then being able to deliver on them.

“We would expect our next couple of ventures to be within a 20-mile radius of The Chester Fields. It makes it easier to cross over staff and to cross promote venues.”

Mark added: “I was ready to be my own boss. There is only so long you can continue waiting on tables and carrying trays of drinks! A lot goes into the running of a pub or restaurant and there are many challenges along the way. I have always loved the buzz of the restaurant trade.

“We have seen year-on-year growth at The Chester Fields and we are hoping for a great summer this year. Our beer garden is perfect when the sun shines.

“We are keen to continue growing and I probably speak to John Moorhouse at Ellis & Co once a week. Sometimes it will be a question about our latest management accounts or, most recently, about the best way to get a company car.

“We are extremely grateful to the support we have received over the last five or more years from the team at Ellis & Co. They have supported us every step of the way.”