16 May 2011

Fruit machine boss sees revival in pubs

The boss of one of Britain’s biggest suppliers of fruit machines has said it is seeing a resurgence in the country’s pubs.

Ken Turner, chief executive of Sceptre Leisure which has its head office at Walton Summit, near Bamber Bridge, said pub operators had started to see trade improve having got rid of a number of problem pubs.

The company yesterday announced it had renewed £1.5m of contracts to supply 130 pubs owned by Joseph Holts, the De Vere Hotels chain and 13 pubs owned by The McManus Pub Company for the next two years.

Mr Turner, who is also a director of the Western Castle pub chain which owns freeholds of 25 pubs in the North West, said: “A lot of pubs which have shaken off the bottom end of pubs which are no longer viable and those they have left are open and trading well.

“I think a lot of the industrial heartlands, of which there are obviously a number across the North West, have been massively over-subscribed with pubs, but now there has been that rationalisation, things are getting better.

“Your average pub has a hardcore of eight or 10 regulars which probably make up around 25% of their sales and, if one pub closes, they will move onto the next until you get a situation where pubs are doing a good trade.”

Sceptre’s two-year contract renewal with Manchester-based Joseph Holt’s follows a 12-year relationship between the companies.

It has also extended its current two-year sole supply deal with De Vere Hotels for a further year to August 2012 and signed a two-year contract with the Northampton-based McManus Pub Company.

Mr Turner said the deals continued its march towards becoming the number one supplier of machines to the pub market.

He said: “Sceptre will continue to follow its strategy of growth both through organic contract gains, and also through selected strategic acquisitions.

“With the trend towards consolidation gathering pace, I believe that Sceptre remains well-placed to take advantage of new opportunities as they arise.”

The company supplies around 21,000 fruit machines, juke boxes, snooker tables and other gaming products to the leisure sector with sales of around £40m.

By David Coates