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Paul Weeks FBII

Paul Weeks FBII has dabbled in almost every area of hospitality, since starting out as a teen over 30 years ago. From DJing in some of the UK’s biggest nightclubs, to venturing into life as a publican. Now, with a wealth of industry knowledge under his belt, Paul is the operations director at Advocate Pubs, a multiple pub operator with more than 30 sites. The BII’s Max Burke MBII report.


It seems as though Paul Weeks FBII has always been destined to work in the hospitality and pub sector. A passion formed at a young age has seen the then-Lincolnshire-based youngster embark on a career as a DJ, starting out in YMCAs and youth centres aged just 14, before going on to work in pubs, clubs and wedding venues. 

Exposure to a wide variety of venues has enabled Paul to build his knowledge of what it took to succeed in different locations. This led to a successful DJ sourcing and supplying business, working with some of the most popular late-night venues across the UK. 

Following many music-fuelled late nights while providing the rhythm for thousands to dance to each weekend, the passion for DJing started to dwindle for Paul, as he became more interested in the business side than the work on the decks. Thoughts such as ‘Why am I earning money for someone else when I could be doing it myself?’ started to cross his mind and it was then when he decided to make the switch to pubs. 

“I really enjoyed the management side more than I did the DJ business, so I started to dip my foot in the pub industry,” explains Paul. 

Paul’s work across so many venues over the years enabled him to build up an extensive contact list including many pub landlords and operators. After undertaking courses on running a pub with both Whitbread and Mitchells & Butlers, he took on a tenancy in The Parkinson Arms in Scunthorpe with Enterprise Inns in 2002, providing him a good grounding for a career running pubs. 

Early success at The Parkinson Arms lead to him taking on a second pub in Grimsby, The Tap and Spile. This Cask Ale venue proved incredibly popular with locals and even earned him a visit from the BII! 

Paul’s world was then rocked following the opening of a JD Wetherspoon pub in Scunthorpe, taking his trade in The Parkinson Arms down from £12k a week to £2k a week, within the space of three weeks. The following months proved difficult and ended up with Paul leaving his two venues in Grimsby and Scunthorpe, leading him to believe that his brief venture in pubs had come to an end. 

Despite the challenges with his first two pubs, Paul was determined to not let this derail his journey and it was his contacts once more that meant he could return to the industry. The Litten Tree in Grimsby had gone bankrupt and after conversations with a friend who was connected to the pub, he ended up getting keys to the venue, presenting him with his first venue free-of-tie. Paul did not look back and credits his BII membership as a factor on his successful journey there on. 

“That was when I joined the BII, meaning my membership is now 20 years old. I put my whole life and focus into the industry and in all honesty from there, I had the bug for pubs. I could get them, and it was almost like I had a golden touch.” 

The success Paul references came in the following years. He took on the incredibly successful County Hotel in Grimsby, a pub he still has to this day, and continued to grow his estate. Eventually he got to a point where he was involved in some way with 150 pubs, whether that be on his own, working with a company or alongside other people. 

Paul’s expertise and knowledge of the sector eventually enabled him to take up his current role as Operations Director at Advocate Pubs in 2018. Advocate are an operating company spanning 36 sites across the Lincolnshire and East Yorkshire area. 

When quizzed on his biggest success tips, the long-time Publican labels local knowledge as a huge factor when it comes to differentiating venues that are successful and those that aren’t. 

“Having knowledge of local people, the town, what it needs and doesn’t need can make such a difference. Personality-led businesses are the ones that are successful in our sector.”

Coupled with this, Paul goes onto explain that though this knowledge can be key, it is worthless if you don’t know your key data points, something that he confesses himself that he never used to look at when starting out. 

“Know what your break-even is, control your stock, control your cash, and drive your sales. You’ve really got to have some good financial understanding, that’s where I made my mistakes previously.

 “It’s all well and good arguing with a supplier to save a bit here and a bit there on a barrel of beer, but if you’re not concentrating on the fact you have four members of bar staff on when you only need one, then it makes it harder to be successful.” 

Despite the difficult trading conditions currently for licensees, Paul does believe there is light at the end of the tunnel, with more consolidation but plenty of opportunities on the horizon in this coming year. 

“It’s incredibly challenging at the moment, the business front is challenging. People make pubs, but the community-feel venues is where success lies at the minute. People want to go where they feel comfortable in a good, safe environment, which is why there will always be a place for hospitality.”

With his experience and longevity in the hospitality sector, Paul has been to several events and spoken to politicians. He is keen to continuously work for positive change and emphasise the importance of the industry to Government. 

For Paul, the BII provided a sense of belonging and recognition when new to the industry and would recommend it to any new licensee starting out. A membership that has spanned over 20 years has provided him with knowledge and assistance in navigating his way through the sector. 

“For anyone starting out it’s essential. There’s so many tools to help you when starting out and I would recommend it to anyone new to the business.” 

All of Paul’s thriving community hubs have provided a sense of purpose and belonging to so many across the years, and the East Yorkshire and Lincolnshire areas are bound to benefit further from Paul’s expertise for many years to come.
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