Named Country Hotel of the Year in the 2015 Good Hotel Guide, the Pear Tree Hotel at Purton works with buying specialist Lynx Purchasing to ensure that its menus, built around fresh, seasonal produce, are as profitable as they are popular.
Purtonis in the heart of the Wiltshire countryside, five miles from Swindon, between the Cotswolds and the Marlborough Downs. The oldest part of the building that is now the Pear Tree is the fireplace in the library. This has been dated to 1430, when King Henry VI was on the throne.
The building was originally Purton’s vicarage, when it was located 400 yards away from its present position, in the churchyard next to the twin towered church of St Mary’s. It was moved to its present site in 1912.
In July 1987, the Diocese of Bristol sold the house to Francis and Anne Young, who brought many years of experience in the hotel industry to their first venture in their own right. Having met while working at the Grosvenor Hotel in Chester, Anne went on to the Savoy in London and King Hussein of Jordan’s Royal Palace in Amman, while Francis worked at the Sandy Lane in Barbados and opened both the Boston and London Marriott as Food and Beverage Director.
The Youngs initially turned the building into a restaurant and four letting bedrooms, and in the early 1990s the Pear Tree was extended to 17 rooms. The facilities now also include a conference room able to accommodate boardroom style meetings as well as weddings, and the recently refurbished Conservatory Restaurant, popular both with hotel residents as well as visitors coming especially for lunch or dinner.
Each of the individually decorated bedrooms and suites is named after a character associated with the village of Purton. These include, Anne Hyde, the mother of Queen Mary and Queen Anne, runner James Kibblewhite, cricketer EH Budd and Astronomer Royal Nevil Maskelyne.
The family connection has expanded along with the hotel’s facilities. With Francis now retired, the founders’ daughter Alix Young works alongside Anne as hotel manager, with her husband Tim also involved in the business.
The Pear Tree is part of thePride of Britain Hotelsconsortium, a collection of more than 40 independently owned hotels. Buying specialist Lynx Purchasing is the consortium’s recommended buying partner.
“Until the start of 2014, we had used Lynx from time to time, but not regularly,” said Alix. “We get calls every week from various purchasing companies, and we’ve always said that Lynx would be the one we’d use if we used anyone, because they’ve proved themselves with other hotels in the Pride of Britain group.”
With the business growing, the family recognised that they needed support to take the Pear Tree to the next level.
“We had some financial consultants in to look at our whole business, and our food costs were identified as a concern. We really started looking into our profit margins, and areas where we could manage costs better.”
A change of menu style in January 2014 put the focus on fresh, seasonal produce. “We moved to having lunch time menus that change daily rather than every three months. We really needed to start getting the most out of our ingredients, and out of our suppliers.”
To cap matters, a change of personnel in the kitchen saw Adam Conduit step up to the role of acting head chef. “With all those factors coming together, we could see clear benefits in starting to work more closely with Lynx Purchasing, to support Adam as well as to improve our margins.
“It was a good time to start looking at changing food suppliers in particular, which is where Lynx has been a huge help. Lynx saw instantly that they could offer us better options in terms of alternative suppliers.”
The Pear Tree now buys all it dry goods at prices negotiated by Lynx, which has generated savings of around 20% over the previous suppliers, “on basic goods, which is making a big difference. It’s a significant saving in an area that isn’t always the first you’d think about looking at.” The hotel’s cleaning and hygiene products are now sourced through a Lynx-nominated supplier, also generating substantial savings.
Given the focus of the menu, “with fresh produce you always have to strike a balance between quality and price,” Alix acknowledges, but even here Lynx has delivered real improvements to the bottom line. Fresh fish is now sourced from a West Country supplier, generating savings of 8% for the Pear Tree over its previous supplier.
The Good Hotel Guide inspectors describe the Pear Tree as “a well-run, well-maintained hotel, with excellent service and good food.” With the support of Lynx Purchasing, the award winning hotel continues to deliver on those high expectations.