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To Keep the Ale Flowing, U.K. Pubs Look to Data

Numbers-savvy owners find a new way to boost sales
To Keep the Ale Flowing, U.K. Pubs Look to Data
Photograph by Matthew Lloyd/Bloomberg

Noah Bulkin is not the man you’d expect to be pouring your next pint of ale. Oxford-educated, Bulkin, 37, spent 15 years as a mergers-and-acquisitions specialist at Merrill Lynch and Lazard before leaving last year to start his own pub company, Hawthorn Leisure. He’s acquired hundreds of struggling pubs and plans to turn them around by tracking everything from the price charged for beer to daily sales fluctuations to customers’ drink preferences.

Understanding pricing and the mix of drinks is key, Bulkin says: “A lot of pubs don’t have that data.” As he sees it, British pubs have long suffered from a lack of attention. “If you can make them the core of your business,” he says, “there’s a fantastic opportunity.”