The Ship & The Bridge Inn

Having successfully managed a string of restaurants and pubs in London, Neill and Sev Kefford decided to return to the country after the birth of their first son to open their own gastropub in the Wiltshire countryside.

They found the perfect property in The Ship Inn at Burcombe, a 17th century village pub with low ceilings, oak beams, a large open fire and a riverside garden. Although it was a little run down and had been a very traditional pub, Neill and Sev were confident they could turn it into a popular venue serving excellent food in a friendly environment.

Establishing your first business can be a daunting prospect, but for the Keffords, appointing accountancy practice Rothmans to help them set up the company and run it efficiently was one of the best decisions they made.

While Neill was in charge of the kitchens, Sev was responsible for front of house and most of the administrative functions. She admits that having the advice and support of Sue Sullivan and her team at Rothmans in Salisbury has been invaluable. "They are so easy to work with and have been amazing in helping us get the business up and running. They gave us advice on how to structure the business most efficiently and they run all the VAT and bookkeeping functions for us, including the payroll."

Running a busy pub and restaurant can generate a significant amount of paperwork and Sev often has queries that need immediate responses. "I think I know everyone at the Salisbury office - and they know me," she explains. "I can pick up the phone at any time and get an immediate response. If I need an invoice raising, then it's done straight away. In this type of business that's the type of relationship you need."

The winning formula the Keffords put into action at The Ship made them consider taking on a second property. "We spoke to Rothmans about our idea and because they have so much local knowledge they were extremely helpful. In fact one of the team even came with us and looked at the pub we found," said Sev.

And in early 2008 The Bridge Inn in the Woodford Valley, a few miles outside Salisbury, was added to the portfolio. Even in today's economic downturn, the two pubs are doing well, serving around 500 meals a week and employing 20 to 30 staff on a full- and part-time basis. Sev now finds her day split between the two premises, not only making sure the business is running smoothly behind the scenes, but also working on the floor to train staff and engage with their customers. "A rapid response from your accountancy firm is essential in a fast moving business like our and we just couldn't operate without our team at Rothmans supporting us every step of the way."

The Old Ship Inn
They are so easy to work with and have been amazing in helping us get the business up and running.

Sev Kefford, The Ship & The Bridge Inn

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