Caterer and Hotelkeeper 100: Rick Bailey, Daniel Thwaites

06 December 2012
Caterer and Hotelkeeper 100: Rick Bailey, Daniel Thwaites

Overall ranking: 99 (NEW ENTRY)
Pub ranking: 13 (NEW ENTRY)

Rick Bailey - Snapshot

Rick Bailey is chief executive of Daniel Thwaites, the North of England's biggest independent brewer and pub operator. The company, based in Blackburn, Lancashire, was founded in 1807. Thwaites owns around 350 pubs, almost all of which operated by tenants, as well as a small group of managed coaching inns and six four-star regional hotels and spas, which trade under the Shire Hotels brand.

Thwaites' beers include Lancaster Bomber and Wainwright. The company also supplies beer and other drinks to many independently owned pubs, clubs and restaurants in the North of England, with this arm of the business boosted in January 2012 by the acquisition of the free trade business of Hyde's Brewery, amounting to around 250 on-trade customer accounts.

In the six months ended to 30 September 2012, Thwaites reported a marginal increase in group turnover, up to £71.1m from £70.9m a year earlier, with operating profit down 13% to £6.6m.

Rick Bailey is an economics graduate and qualified as an accountant with KPMG. He worked in the financial services industry with both Catalyst Corporate Finance and Société Générale, and initially joined Daniel Thwaites in 2002 as a non-executive director. He took up a full time executive role with the company in 2009 with responsibility for developing the future direction and growth of the business, and was appointed chief executive in March 2011.

Rick Bailey - what we think

Inevitably, the appointment of Rick Bailey into the top job at Daniel Thwaites in 2011 prompted a few wry mutterings. Not yet 40, and with a background in finance rather than having paid his dues in the pub and
brewery trade, he found himself at the helm of one of the UK's biggest family brewers.

Bailey's wife Henrietta is the great-great-great granddaughter of brewery founder Daniel Thwaite, while his mother-in-law Ann Yerbugh has a been board member for almost 40 years, and chairman of the company since 2000. Bailey's appointment to oversee the modernisation of Thwaites reflects the family firmly back in control after a period when the chief executive role was held by professionals appointed from outside the Yerburgh clan.

Thwaites is an institution in the North West. Its pubs and beers a familiar site in it heartland, but the region has been hit as hard as any by the recession. Soon after he took on the chief executive role, Bailey told the Publican's Morning Advertiser: "As a family we have to try and get a better understanding of what's going on in the business so we can plan for the future. We want to be fully committed, and we want to maintain family values."

The process of modernisation has seen the sale of a number of pubs from the bottom end of the estate, and greater focus on food, including an emphasis on local sourcing of produce. Developing accommodation, in the form of both coaching inns and the Shire Hotels operation, has also been prioritised.

On the brewing side of there is now less contract brewing and a stronger focus on developing sales of its own beer brands both within its estate and in the wider pub trade. In 2011, the company announced plans to sell its 200 year old Star Brewery site in the centre of Blackburn, and work with the local authority to identify a site for a new brewery development. That will in part be funded by a deal with Sainsbury's to redevelop the existing site.

The family is also not averse to bringing in support from outside when needed. In May 2012, the appointment of Steve Magnall, formerly deputy managing director of Greene King brewing and brands, as managing director of Thwaites brewing business, sent a clear signal that the company plans to compete for its share of the growing cask and craft beer market.

Acknowledging that the market is currently tough, Bailey said when announcing the company's half year results in November: "We continue to act decisively in response to the current market conditions and we are committed to creating a prosperous and sustainable business for the future."

Poor weather hits Daniel Thwaites's half-year profits>>Daniel Thwaites launches Inns of Character>>

Blackburn's Thwaites brewery announces relocation plans>>

Daniel Thwaites website>>

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