Ed’s got himself a pub. Ed Sheeran that is.

Hats off to him.

You might think that Ed has got it easier than most. Celebrity status. Famous friends. Alternative sources of income. But hospitality is like the high-street: a tough environment to make money. We’ve seen big operators and famous faces struggle in the hospitality space over the past few years and Ed’s biggest foodie credentials extend to a loyalty card for a famous chicken shop.

So, Ed what words of wisdom do we have for you on starting out?

What’s the plan?

Have you checked you can turn this into the space you want it to be – whether for live music or alfresco dining?

Ensure that there are no restrictions on use of the building under the lease or in the property deeds that could impact your plans. There is often scope to remove or change these restrictions. Check. Nothing kills an opening party quite like the council telling you to stop blocking the pavement.
Who’s running the show?

We know you’ve come back for some rest & recuperation after being on the longest ever world tour but how long are you going to be sticking around for, Ed?

Choose the management team and directors wisely. Make sure you can hold them to account and, where necessary, replace them easily. If you want to have oversight of certain key financial and operational decisions then make sure there are mechanisms to do so in any governance documentation.

When is the beer arriving?

The one thing you can guarantee when owning a pub is beer on tap, right?

You might want to check that the commercial contracts you are taking over – for food, beverage, or cleaning services for example – do not contain clauses allowing suppliers to end the contract where there is a change of ownership.

If these exist then you may need to renegotiate or find new suppliers.

Who’s on shift?

Do you know who will be working for you?

Knowing names and faces is all well and good but you need to make sure that you carry out Right to Work checks on all your employees. This means physically checking their identification documents and ensuring each employee has the right to work in the UK.

And just because you might change the décor and the menu doesn’t mean you can change all of the staff. Where you take over the premises, the equipment and even just a few of the staff then the TUPE regulations may apply leaving you with responsibility for existing staff and ongoing employment grievances.

How do I get more customers?

Register for the soft launch and special offers (and leave your email address).

Post on social media.

Use a third-party booking site (and provide a contact number).

This is all great but make sure you have the relevant permission under the GDPR regulations so you can contact these people again with further offers and marketing.

The fines for data protection breaches can be bigger and scarier than Saturday night’s doorman.

Look after the pennies

When it comes to the hospitality business there are a hundred-and-one things to think about everyday so whether an item is zero-rated for VAT purposes is probably low down the list of priorities.

VAT can be confusing and it becomes even more nuanced where you are importing produce from outside the UK.

Then there is corporation tax, business rates and payroll taxes for employees.

Adding to the recipe is the government’s Making Tax Digital initiative.

But getting the numbers right is up there with happy customers for running a successful hospitality business.

Understand your tax liability, get advice and then streamline how you deal with it.


Philip Leonard is a Trainee Solicitor and Juliet Oury is a Partner at Oury Clark