The Swan’s flight to the holiday sector

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THE owners of an East Yorkshire pub have revealed plans to expand and branch out into the provision of holiday lets as part of their efforts to make the business profitable.

Tony and Sonja Day, directors of Stony Property, took on The Swan Inn in Seaton, on the main road from Beverley to Hornsea, in December 2009 from former owners Enterprise Inns. A refurbishment of the premises followed, which saw them re-fit the kitchen and toilets, clean and paint the bar area, gut the manager’s flat and create a landscape garden and children’s play area.

Total investment in the revamp cost around £100,000, said Mr Day, and The Swan Inn re-opened in June 2010. Mr Day said: “It has gone from strength to strength. It’s only a small pub and we only seat 32 people to dine. We are serving more than 600 meals per week.”

The business, which employs 12 people, has an annual turnover of over £300,000, a 15-20 per cent increase on the previous year, said Mr Day. Currently, the pub is breaking even, but Mr Day hopes it will become profitable by this time next year. He added: “We have plans to extend the pub to provide an extra 40 covers (seats) bringing it up to 70 seats for people to eat.”

Currently, on 32 covers, the staff are not working to maximum efficiency, he said, adding: “We could add extra covers with the same amount of staff to try and make the place profitable and keep it open.”

The plans, which are soon going to be submitted, also include proposals to turn redundant buildings on the site into two self-catering holiday lets.

Mr Day said: “There’s a fairly large seasonal tourist business where we are with caravans and the like. We get lots of visitors from West Yorkshire coming out to the coast at the weekends. It’s that weekend market we are trying to tap into and during the school holidays. We want to provide good quality self-catering accommodation.”

Subject to planning permission, Mr Day hopes that work will start in September, and be completed by early 2013.

Mr Day said: “With pubs closing at the rate of 12 per week nationally and many pubs struggling to pay their way, everyone said we were mad to buy a pub but we did just that in December 2009 as we believe that good pubs do well.

“We think that a great deal of pubs are closing or struggling because they are dirty, out of date, their customer service level is low, they serve microwave meals and are expensive. Why would someone want to go and spend their hard-earned cash in such a place?

“Therefore we set out to do the opposite, a clean, tidy, warm, friendly pub that sells good home cooked food at a reasonable price with happy, welcoming and helpful staff.”