Lancaster pub couple put businesses up for sale and reveal “cashless” row back decision

Photo Neil Cross Hannah and Martin Horner of The Borough
Photo Neil Cross Hannah and Martin Horner of The Borough

Two pubs owned and run by a Lancaster couple have gone up for sale.

The freehold of The Britannia, in Ullswater Road, is on the market for £345,000, while the leasehold of The Lodge, in Main Road, Slyne, is up for around £195,000.

The Britannia in Lancaster

The Britannia in Lancaster

Hannah and Martin Horner, who also own The Borough, in Dalton Square, said they wanted to focus on other business interests, including Lancaster On Ice, which will see an ice rink and big wheel come to the city over the Christmas period.

Recently, all three pubs went “cashless”, but Hannah said that after hearing opinions from customers and members of the public, the couple decided to re-instate cash payments.

They took over the leasehold of The Lodge in 2016.

The pub, restaurant and hotel features 10 en-suite bedrooms with scope for eight more in what is a currently derelict first floor.

The Lodge in Slyne

The Lodge in Slyne

It is owned by the Woverhampton based Marston’s pub company.

Hannah said: “The Lodge is tied to Marston’s, and whilst we’ve enjoyed our relationship with them, it doesn’t really fit in with anything else we do.

“We revel in being a Freehouse and being able to offer a great selection of beers, but we weren’t able to do this at The Lodge.

“It just didn’t fit with our model.

A CGI of the ice rink and big wheel in Dalton Square. By Nick Dagger Photography.

A CGI of the ice rink and big wheel in Dalton Square. By Nick Dagger Photography.

“The sale gives us the chance to pursue other things, and to concentrate on Lancaster On Ice and The Borough.

“We’ve had some great times at The Lodge. We’ve hosted more than 100 weddings, and people even come back for their anniversaries.

“It’s a great opportunity for someone.

“The upside of it is that it’s derelict upstairs and could be converted into another eight bedrooms on top of the 10 already there.”

The listing for The Lodge on Rightmove shows the 19th century coaching inn recorded a net turnover for the 12 months to January 2019 of £1,023,363 (split 49 per cent food/32 per cent wet/19 per cent accommodation), with an adjusted net profit of £122,096.

Hannah said that The Brit has had its best year yet, but needed to be owner operated.

“The Brit is up for sale because we’re just too busy with other projects,” she said.

“It needs to be owner operated and have that kind of feel to it.

“The Brit has grown year on year, and this year has been its best ever.”

The couple also run a residential childcare business called Bay View Childcare with a total of five houses.

As for the going “cashless” at the three pubs, which prompted a lot of lively debate, Hannah said: “We did a public survey around The Lodge and out of 100 people, 85 mentioned the cashless thing.

“The Lodge has an older clientele, and is in a more localised setting, rather than the city centre, so we decided maybe we’d been too hasty.

“The Lodge takes the most cash compared to card payments, so we decided to revert back.

“Ironically though at The Lodge, cash payments never go over 20 per cent.

“The cost of banking is still most expensive for the lodge, but we decided that it was worth it.

“The response at The Lodge was positive, so that raised the question about doing it at The Borough.

“So we did an anonymous survey on social media, and had thousands of responses.

“The results were overwhelmingly that we should take cash again.

“We’re local people ourselves, and it’s important to us what people think.”

Hannah said that keeping cash on the premises was definitely an issue in terms of burglaries.

She said: “I think that ultimately the world is moving towards a cashless society, and we are already seeing that in parts of this country.

“But perhaps Lancaster isn’t ready for that yet.”