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The MA 500

Start Date:11 February, 2021

Start Time:10:00AM BST (London)

Duration:120 minutes


The MA500 returns for the New Year with the first online session to help operators gear up for the year ahead. We'll be looking at how businesses can continue to grow in the face of recession and ongoing challenges, what the funding opportunities might be, the thorny issue of insurance in the wake of the failure of pandemic payouts, how to market your business to stay front of mind with consumers despite lockdown and how the future shape of pubs might be evolving.

Following the MA500 Online webinar on Thursday 11 February, we will be hosting a series of special roundtables featuring some of our speakers. These will take place in small groups on zoom from 12:00-12:30.

Should you wish to join one of the sessions below, please email: stating the session you wish to join. Please note there a limited numbers and your place is only confirmed if you receive an email confirmation. You will only be able to join one session.

Session 1: State of the Sector Roundtable with James Anderson
Session 2: Insurance Roundtable with Steven Swift
Session 3: Growing your Business Roundtable with Gerry Carroll, Sean Donkin and Bob Silk
Session 4: The Shape of the Future Pub Roundtable with James Brown, Anthony Pender and Alison Vasey
Session 5: Marketing Roundtable with Mark McCulloch


Molson Coors

In association with

Davey Poppleston Allen
Pernod Ricard UKHospitality


James Anderson


Poppleston Allen

James has over 25 years of experience in licensing law and has been a partner at Poppleston Allen since 2006. His work includes advising on the licensing aspects of development work and presenting applications for major refurbishments and new licences. He also advises clients when there are difficulties with premises, including defending reviews and other enforcement action brought by the authorities. He has presented at a large number of hearings and is a very experienced licensing advocate. James' clients range from independent operators though to national pub, bar and restaurants chains including Fuller's, Young's, Boparan Restaurant Group and Adventure Bar.

Ed Bedington


The Morning Advertiser

Editor of the Morning Advertiser, Ed Bedington is a professional journalist of more than 25 years having worked across a range of sectors both in trade press and mainstream media. He’s covered the pub and bar sector for the last five and a half years at The MA both in print and online, and is head judge of both the Great British Pub Awards and the Publican Awards. He can often be found in a pub!

James Brown

Managing Director - Bars


James Brown is responsible for all UK Bar operations, so heads up all projects involving new bars, food offerings and improvements to our existing network – basically any and everything to do with each visit you make to a BrewDog bar.

Gerry Carroll

Chief Executive

Valiant Pub Company

Having co-founded Hawthorn Leisure and with over 35 years of experience in the hospitality sector, including senior roles at Enterprise Inns, Mitchells and Butlers and Whitbread, to name a few, Gerry Carroll is once again embarking on a new venture as co-founder and ceo of Valiant Pubs, which was launched in the face of the corona pandemic early this year.

Sean Donkin

Managing Director

The Inn Collection Group

Sean Donkin is managing director of The Inn Collection Group, a pubs with rooms operator in the north of England whose portfolio lists sites in the Lake District, Northumberland, County Durham, Yorkshire and Lancashire. As well as leading the award-winning group’s team through the ongoing challenges of the pandemic, Donkin remains focussed on delivering accelerated strategic expansion plans to reach 22 sites by 31 March 2021. Sean has built an inn blueprint purpose-built for scale up while investing in innovation and a workforce that embraces what people love most about visiting and staying at pubs, while staying customer-centric at all times.

Mark McCulloch


Supersonic Inc.

Mark McCulloch is one of the leading Hospitality brand and marketing minds in the world. Mark has 20 years Brand, Marketing, Digital and Social experience including, Barclaycard, YO! Sushi and Pret A Manger. Mark co-founded Brand and Marketing agency WE ARE Spectacular in 2012 and now runs Premium Brand and Marketing Strategy Consultancy Supersonic Inc. helping C-Suite level Marketers and Executives amplify their business across multiple sectors. In 2018, Mark began podcasting. The Mark McC Supersonic Food Marketing Podcast has reached number 20 in the iTunes business charts and is a regular Top 100 podcast.

Kate Nicholls

Chief Executive


Kate Nicholls is CEO of UKHospitality, the powerful voice representing the hospitality sector, having previously worked as CEO and strategic affairs director of the Association of Licensed Multiple retailers (ALMR). In July 2019, Nicholls was appointed chair of the Tourism Alliance. She is also chair of Mayor of London’s Night Time Commission and is a member of many boards, including the Events Industry Board, London Food Board, Tourism Industry Council and Cultural Cities Enquiry. Nicholls worked as a researcher in the House of Commons and European Parliament before joining Whitbread as government relations manager.

Anthony Pender


Yummy Pubs

Co-founder of Yummy Pubs, Anthony has built a strong boutique pub operation which puts people at the heart of their operations. Innovative and forward thinking, he's played a key role in keeping his operation at the forefront of the trade.

Alex Reilley



Alex teamed up with fellow caterers & longstanding friends Jake Bishop and Dave Reid and founded Loungers in 2002. He held the role of Managing Director until the end of 2014 when he stepped up to become the groups Executive Vice Chairman. Following private equity investment from Lion Capital in December 2016 Alex became Chairman of Loungers and in April 2019 Loungers floated on the London Stock Exchange. Loungers operate two brands - 'Lounge' café/bars and the Cosy Club and currently have 170 sites.

Bob Silk

Relationship Director - Hospitality & Leisure

Barclays Corporate Banking

Having joined Barclays straight from school in September 1979, Bob Silk has always worked at the sharp end of corporate banking, with customers. He first “bank managerial” appointment was in October 1987, following which he worked in a variety of the Bank’s branches in north west London. In May 1993 he moved into the world of turnaround management covering London and the South East anywhere his focus was working with a wide variety of business customers who were in difficulties, helping them to return their businesses to health. In March 1998 Bob was one of the founder members of the Bank’s industry focused Hospitality & Leisure Team where for the last 23 years he has worked exclusively with restaurant, pub and hotel operators. Today his customers include a number of London’s five star hotels and multi-site regional hotel operators, and also various multi-site pub and restaurant businesses whose trading estates range in size from around 400 sites to 10 sites. In addition to working for Barclays, Bob is also a Trustee of The Springboard Charity and a director of the HoSPA. He and his wife live in Surrey; they 5 children and 2 grandchildren.

Steven Swift


Sector Associates

Steven works as a consultant for Sector Associate. Steven has worked in insurance for over 25 years, having held senior positions in broking and insurance companies. Steven achieved associate status of The Chartered Insurance Institute, developing insurance programmes for commercial businesses from SME to global organisations. Steven advises businesses on insurance issues within hospitality and leisure sector, working with UKHospitality, The Licensee Association, Association of Indoor Play and The Music Venue Trust. Steven is a CELTA qualified language teacher and teaches English language in the UK and overseas.

Alison Vasey

Group Product Director


Alison is Zonal’s visionary. Defining our future technology roadmap and strategy, she is passionate about the future of technology and how it can help operators fulfil the customer experience. Skilled in strategic planning and in leading change and improvement through innovation, Alison directs our strategic product teams to deliver on Zonal’s product strategy. Alison also spent eight years at Mitchells & Butlers where she was Head of Business Change. At MaB, she led a transformation programme to replace all their pubs and restaurant technology to drive productivity improvements and prepare the way for the digital transformation that COVID has accelerated.

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