Voucher offers ‘doomed to fail’

Craig Bancroft, co-founder of The Northcote Group

Craig Bancroft, co-founder of The Northcote Group

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The owner of a chain of Lancashire’s most popular gastropubs has told people the “offer society” is doomed to failure.

Craig Bancroft, the co-founder of Ribble Valley Inns (RVI), said he believed the boom in money off vouchers driving people into restaurants was “unsustainable.”

He said services such as Groupon, which offer people vouchers to get money off at certain venues, would jeopardise the sustainability of smaller venues and large chains.

RVI parent company, Northcote Group, announced this week it had secured “sustainable” investment from Lancashire businessman Richard Matthewman to press ahead with the expansion of the group.

He said: “People have to make a decision whether they want good produce from a well run, sustainable business or whether they want to continue the obsession with getting the cheapest deal they can get.

“If they want the former, they have to accept this is not always going to be a Sunday lunch for a fiver, if they want the latter, they have to accept what they get.

“At the end of the day, people will always get what they pay for, they cannot have their cake and eat it.”

Mr Bancroft added he did not believe the voucher offers threaten his business which caters for “the celebration market.”

Recent study showed two in every five customers at restaurants rated vouchers as “very or extremely important” when deciding where to eat out.

The businessman said Mr Matthewman was “an inspirational character” and predicted a strong future for the Northcote Group.

It has targeted adding further pubs to the RVI portfolio, which includes The Three Fishes at Mitton and the Clog and Billycock at Pleasington, and expanding its Northcote restaurant and hotel at Langho, near Blackburn.

The co-founder said: “Richard Matthewman has been a customer of ours for the past 30 years, so he knows what we are all about and we know what he is all about.”