Brasserie Bar Co announces transition to Heartwood Collection

Brasserie Bar Co has announced it will become the Heartwood Collection, marking the Group’s strategy and evolution into becoming a freehold pub company underpinned by a premium brasserie division.

The move reflects the next natural step for the Group, underlining Heartwood’s ambition to become a market-leading operator of freehold premium pubs and pubs-with-rooms in the UK.

Heartwood Collection is the Group that currently operates 20 premium pubs and 14 Brasserie Blanc restaurants across the UK, planning to grow significantly as a freehold business in future years.

As a result of this move, White Brasserie Company, one of the Group’s brands will become Heartwood Inns on 6th July.

The name Heartwood is the oldest and inner most core of a tree, as strong as steel and provides the structure from which it can grow and thrive.

With over 25 years of experience and some of the best people retention rates in the industry, the new name articulates both the Group’s strong foundations and ambitious growth plans.

The Group takes a long-term approach, and will continue to prioritise the acquisition of atmospheric freehold properties – especially those where there is scope to refurbish or bring back to life.

As part of this move, the leadership team will remain in place – with Mark Derry as Chairman and Richard Ferrier as Managing Director. Raymond Blanc will continue his vital role of directing the menu evolution, the quality of sourcing and the development of outstanding people.

With the support of its new owners Alchemy, the Group has accelerated its growth plans and has already completed the acquisition of 11 freehold sites over the past twelve months and are close to completing on a further five in the summer of 2023.

Following strong recent trading (showing positive covers and spend per head growth), the Group will continue to focus on acquiring freehold pubs and pubs-with-rooms with the aim of growing to 61 sites by June 2027.

As part of this, Heartwood also has the aim of providing nearly 400 boutique bedrooms in the same time period. This will mean the creation of a further 1,500 jobs up and down the UK, representing a significant contribution to local economies, and take the total number of Heartwood employees to 2,700.

Momentum is already building, and the Group’s next site – the Black Swan in Henley in Arden, Warwickshire – is due to open in August. The inn will have 120 restaurant seats, 60 seats in the bar and a 100-seat garden. It will benefit from a major extension and will create 60 jobs in the area.

In addition, the Group has acquired the former George Evelyn pub in Long Ditton, Surrey. This is currently in planning and is due to open before the end of 2023.

As part of Heartwood’s move into rooms, the business has exchanged on a 16th century coaching inn, ‘The White Hart’ in Lewes, the county town of East Sussex. The pub is rich with history and is known as the ‘cradle of American independence’, where Thomas Paine forged his radical polices in the debating club of the old inn. His pamphlet “Common Sense” sold half a million copies in 1776 and inspired the ‘Declaration of Independence’, signed later that year.

The Group intends to fully refurbish the property with a new orangery overlooking the South Downs and 23 beautifully designed rooms and suites.

Heartwood anticipates that it will have 150 rooms in the business by June 2024.

Mark Derry, Chairman, Heartwood Collection, said: “As Heartwood Collection, our offer will be grounded in a winning combination of serving premium quality food in atmospheric pubs.

“More than this, we see real opportunity to leverage our hospitality expertise and become a significant operator of pubs-with-rooms, filling that current gap in the market for memorable boutique stays – at the right price.

“This is the right time for us to make this change. Our new name reflects not only the business we are today, but it underlines the ambition we have to become a leading freehold pub business of real scale.

“With the ongoing support of our new owners Alchemy, we will continue to target the opening of new sites, and I look forward to bringing Heartwood’s pub offer to new towns and local communities throughout the UK.”