A lost potential?

Last week we discovered that the Cock & Bull chain of English style pubs in Auckland had been sold to the Nourish Group. Word on the street was that the house beers produced by Steam would be discontinued. Hearts were heavy.

In doing some research (Goggle – Nourish Group) we find that one of the owners of Nourish is Simon Gault of the fabulous restaurant Euro and star of NZ Master Chef. Wouldn’t it be awesome if Simon and the rest of Nourish group could be persuaded to embrace craft beers for the new Cock & Bull?

So being the pushy American that I used to be, I called up the person on the contact page – Phil Clarke – and left a message, thinking that I would be ignored but also hoping that since NZ is so much like a small town where everyone knows everyone else, we could get in contact with someone. Meanwhile, other clever SOBA members found email and twitter accounts for Simon Gault. The idea was to invite Simon to Beervana: Mr Amazing Chef, please meet amazing array of NZ craft beer (they fall in love, great beer gets matched with great food, and New Zealand lives happily ever after). We even had an offer from Beervana to comp tickets for him.

But I got a call today from Phil Clarke. I asked about the purchase of Cock & Bull and if it was true the beer was being discontinued (true). Mr Clarke confirmed the contract had been made with Lion. When I expressed dismay, he admitted it was about the money.

I tried to convince him what a great opportunity this could be with Simon involved and everything. Phil tried to explain that Simon had nothing to do with the pubs, only the restaurants. I will be honest, I didn’t understand how a business group could have partners involved in some aspects of a company but not others. I wanted to ask more questions but Phil had loud children in the background and I am sure he didn’t call me back to give me a business lesson.

I took to twitter to confirm to my fellow beer aficionados that the rumors were true. With one last gasp I tweeted to Simon hoping he could guide decisions towards real flavour .

Simon was none too happy in being included in the C&B issue and tweeted back for me to call him. (must suppress urge to scream like a teenage girl at a lady gaga concert).

Mr Gault was lovely even though he was a bit miffed at being included in tweets. We discussed the issue of the Nourish Group web site, how it lists him as a full partner in the business.  In reality, he has no say over any of the pubs (which in my opinion, is too bad, because they could be so much better!). I explained my viewpoint of how great an opportunity this could be: Great food + Great beer =Joy! how New Zealand is really at the beginning of a boom in craft beer. Wellington is starting to embrace food and beer matching but so far, Auckland was lagging behind.

For including Simon in my tweets about the nourish group poor business decision regarding the beer, I sincerely apologize.

To Mr Simon Gault, I look forward to discussing craft beer with you very soon. I have some great ideas for matching I hope will inspire you. (insert screaming like a teenage girl here).


About beeriq

I am formally from San Francisco Bay Area in California where I lived for 17 years before moving to New Zealand. I now have my NZ citizenship. I am a huge fan of craft beer and wish everyone would pay attention to what they eat and drink.
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11 Responses to A lost potential?

  1. Can I suggest that a Cock and Bull customer complains to the Commerce Commission that this takeover and deal with Lion Nathan reduces competition and consumer choice? http://www.comcom.govt.nz/online-complaint-form/

  2. Paul Vester says:

    Gutted. I understand the C&B owners wanting the best deal, and I understand Nourish wanting to make the profit figures as healthy as they can. It’ll be interesting to see whether it works out that way though, since taking good beer out of the C&B pubs just means their point of difference is lost so competing with other cheesy english theme pubs will require a lot more effort. I imagine a good portion of their customers will up sticks and go to Galbraiths instead.

    • beeriq says:

      I agree. And while that may be good for Galbraith’s in terms of business, I am not sure they are hurting. Every time I am there, the place is packed. All the same, I really wish Auckland could embrace the craft beer pub scene like Wellington.

  3. Paul Vester says:

    Was in the C&B Ellerslie tonight for a Monks, and talked to the bar staff – the changeover is due to happen in the second week of August. The guy I spoke to also said the brewery is being sold. Not sure whether that means the C&B crew are also selling their stake in Steam, or something else, but it’d be a shame not to see at least a couple of the beers they currently produce in the market – if not through C&B.

    FWIW the guy I spoke to agreed about it being strange that they’re effectively dropping their USP by dropping the beers. Without the beers there’s really no differentiator from the other English theme pubs so it’ll be interesting to see what happens to their takings.

    • beeriq says:

      I have been waiting to see some write up in the NZ Herald business section about the change in ownership. You would think this is of news-worthy-ness to a lot of people. I may have to put in a word with a guy I know.

  4. Tony Patrick says:

    The problem is with Lion Nathan and DB and their anti-competitive behaviour in regard to ‘incentives’ given to pub owners for exclusivity. This is essentially a subsidy to each pub which can’t be matched by smaller players. If locking out competition is not anti-competitive, I don’t know what is.

    Walk into 90%+ of pubs or restaurants and you can see which one of the two big breweries have made the best deal.

    If Telecom bought Vodafone, there would be uproar about anti-competitive behaviour, but with the big breweries, a similar thing is happening, just not at a bulk level. It’s incremental, pup by pub, restaurant by restaurant until it builds to be a giant problem.

    Don’t blame the Nourish Group as they are putting money behind this venture and in their eyes the assistance they get from Lion is vital. It’s not up to The Nourish Group to fund craft brewing, but it could end up being a bad business decision if they end up being just another pub selling the same insipid stuff you can get everywhere else.

  5. Matt P says:

    Well this is no good. The wife and I were just in Cock & Bull Newmarket the other week and I was having a good time with the Dark Star. As other commenters have said it’s that line of craft beer that make the place interesting. Without that pull I can’t see us giving the place much business with Galbraith’s up the street — or else just head into the city to check out the Brewery.

    Shame to hear.

  6. Simon Gault says:

    You still have your facts wrong, I hand the Nourish Group have not purchased any pubs.
    Simon Gault

  7. Les says:

    I was unaware of this until walking in to C&B, Botany yesterday(sunday) lunchtime. Usually packed, the place was dead. The barman told me the brew recipes had also been part of the deal; can this be true?
    . Galbraith’s for us from now on. Fuggles RIP.

  8. Richard says:

    Had to go to the C&B in Botany this afternoon on business. the tone and ambienc e had deteriorated dramatically. I had to call into Galbraiths on the way home; it was thriving. Does anybody know who has aquired the C&B. Simon Gault is denying any involvement.

    • beeriq says:

      Have a look at my post “getting the facts straight”. I explain who has bought the C&B. At one time there was a report that Keith Galbraith was thinking of expanding and opening a few more pubs. Don’t know that anything became of that idea. If you do know of any pubs in the Botany area that supply craft beers, do let me know and I will add them to the Auckland Craft Beer Guide.

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