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22nd August 2022

Craft Union Pub Company turns seven

Craft Union Pub Company is celebrating seven years of trading with the investment and reopening of its very first pub, The Market Tavern in Hanley.

Formed in April 2015, The Market Tavern in Hanley was Craft Union’s original site. Within the first year the company had grown to an estate of 23 pubs and today Craft Union operate some 440+ pubs across the country.  It has also seen award success, crowned Community Pub Operator of the Year at the Publican Awards in 2020 and 2022, it remains the current title holder of this award.

The unique Craft Union business model gives individual Operators the freedom to run their pub as their own business with the support and backing of the Company. These partnerships enable Operators to immerse themselves in their communities and have resulted in an incredible retention rate at 86% with Operator turnover currently at an all-time low.

Nick Andrews, Managing Director at Stonegate Group, said: “Community is at the heart of everything we do in Craft Union and the success of the past seven years is down to our Operators, our local heroes, who serve their individual communities tirelessly and with such incredible dedication. We believe there are many benefits and opportunities within our unique operating model. Our Operator earning potential along with additional incentives and benefits, together with a fantastic nationwide portfolio of sites, first class support from the largest Pub Company [Stonegate Group] and one of the most dedicated Operations Support teams in the industry, makes Craft Union poised as the future partner of choice.”

This anniversary of Craft Union is being marked by the six-figure investment of its inaugural site, The Market Tavern in Hanley. A treasure in the Craft Union estate, the pub embodies the company ethos – a fantastic community wet-led pub, known locally as serving great drinks and a fantastic place to watch sport. This re-investment demonstrates Craft Union’s commitment to continuous improvement of its estate.

The pub is celebrating its official reopening today [Friday 19 August] with a jam-packed 90’s-themed weekend, with live music and DJs.

Simon Calvert and Natalie Bamford who recently joined the Craft Union family as Operators of The Market Tavern at this pivotal point in the pub’s history said: “We are delighted to be part of the Craft Union family and proud to be a part of The Market Tavern’s next chapter. The investment has given our fantastic pub a new lease of life and I cannot wait to lead this business to future success. Running a Craft Union pub, you are really in charge of your own destiny, that is the beauty of their operating partnerships. The help and encouragement we have received from all the support teams at Stonegate has been worlds apart from what we have experienced before. I cannot wait to see what the future holds for us at The Market Tavern.”

Craft Union continues to expand and enhance its estate and partner packages, most recently launching a dedicated training programme, Elevation, for its regional managers. Going forward Craft Union is focussed on nurturing and recruiting the very best talent.

Nick Andrews concluded: “We have exciting years ahead of us, with ambitious and opportunistic plans to ensure our business partners see continuous success. Our mission is to cement our name as a partner of choice, enhancing our Operator offer with industry leading packages, whilst attracting new talent from various backgrounds and different industries.”



About Stonegate Group

Stonegate Group is the largest pub company in the UK.  Its portfolio is comprised of over 4,500 sites, split across the managed division and leased and tenanted businesses.

The managed pubs division, which employs over 16,000 people, is split into Branded and Traditional pubs. Branded is comprised of: Slug & Lettuce, Popworld, Be At One and Venues. Traditional (unbranded) pubs are made up of: Proper Pubs, Town Pub & Kitchen, Classic Pub & Dining, Social Pub & Kitchen and Craft Union.


  • BII’s National Innovation in Training Awards (NITAs): HR Manager of the Year (Jemelle Bish), Best Apprenticeship Training Programme (ATOP)
  • Publican Awards – Best Community Operator (Craft Union Pub Company)


  • Licensed Trade Charity Awards   raising awareness through fundraising
  • Great British Pub Awards – Stonegate Group Pub Partners’ Pub of the Year, Best Pub to Watch Sport
  • MCA Retailers’ Retailer Awards – The Hero Award (Suzanne Baker)


  • Great British Pub Awards – Feeding the Community, Community Mindfulness & Ei Publican Partnerships Pub of the Year
  • REBA Employee Wellbeing Awards – Best New Wellbeing Strategy (5000+ staff)
  • Publican Awards – Best Pub Employer (501+ employees)
  • Publican Awards – Best Community Operator (Craft Union Pub Company)


  • BII’s National Innovation in Training Awards (NITAs): HR Manager of the Year, Lee Woolley (2019); Best Managed Company for Training; Lifetime Achievement Award for Chairman, Ian Payne (2016)
  • CGA Insight Hero and Icon Awards (two awards): Icon Award   Ian Payne MBE, Business Leader, Simon Longbottom (2019)
  • UK Hospitality’s Dusk ‘til Dawn Late Night Awards (two awards) – Icon Award (Ian Payne MBE), Best Marketing and Promotions Award (2019);  Best Service & Team (2018)
  • Great British Pub Awards – Best LGBTQ+ Pub (2019); Best LGBTQ+ and Best Sports Pub (2018); Best Pub Garden, Best Entertainment and Best Sports Pub (2017); Best Sports Pub (2016);
  • BII Scotland Awards   Best Operator for Training (2019)
  • Retailers’ Retailer of the Year (two awards): Lifetime Achievement Award, Ian Payne MBE;  Investor of the Year   TDR Capital (2019); Investor of the Year: TDR Capital (2017)
  • Menu Innovation & Development Awards (MIDAS) (two awards): Best Menu, Premium High Street Pub: Slug & Lettuce; Best Menu, Town & City Pub: Walkabout (2019);  Premium High Street Pub: Town Pub & Kitchen (2017); Best New Concept: Missoula, Montana Bar & Grill (2014); City and Bar Dining: Slug and Lettuce (2013)
  • Publican Awards (five awards): Best Community Pub Operator, Best Pub Employer (501+ employees), Best Managed Pub Company (51+ sites), Best Drinks Offer, Business Leader of the Year   Chief Executive, Simon Longbottom (2019); Best Late Night Operator (2018); Best Managed Pub Company; Best Late Night Operator, plus highly commended   Best Employer 501+ employees (2017);  Business Leader of the Year, Chairman Ian Payne (2014); Best Pub Employer 51+ sites (2013)
  • British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA)   Chairman’s Award (2018)
  • Licensed Trade Charity: Outstanding Corporate Contribution Award (2018)
  • APPBG PUBAID Corporate Charity Fundraiser Award (2018)
  • Scottish Training Federation: Best Large Employer  (2016)
  • HR Excellence Awards: Best Learning and Development Strategy (2016)
  • HR Distinction Awards: Innovation for Digital & Social Media (2016); People Development (2015); Innovative Use of Technology (2014)

Press release from Leisure PR and Communications Ltd.

For further information, please contact Joanne Steward via