Game changer by Martin Wolstencroft

29th March 2019

Game changer by Martin Wolstencroft

Live sport in pubs has come a long way during my time in the sector, particularly in the two decades since I co-founded Arc Inspirations. Before then a sports pub amounted to a community boozer with a sticky carpet and smoke-filled bar full of blokes – probably wearing football tops – that had a dusty television in the corner.

Investment in sports coverage by the major broadcasters in tandem with advances in audio-visual technology has meant people can now enjoy a superb, immersive viewing experience from the comfort of their own sofa. As operators, our venues need to match that experience at the very least and offer compelling reasons for people to keep returning. Customer expectations have clearly increased. People think carefully about where to spend their money when eating, drinking and watching sport – they want venues that can provide high-quality, memorable moments.

When it comes to watching the big match, fight or race, the shared experience of being alongside like-minded fans in the pub is second only to being at the event itself. You can’t bottle the electric atmosphere that draws people through the doors and provides the thrilling, communal buzz we all witnessed during last summer’s fantastic Fifa World Cup.

We believe Arc has been at the forefront of changing the game when it comes to sports bars. This is no more evident than at The Box in Leeds city centre, which opened in September last year.

Before opening we thought long and hard about how to evolve the concept. We wanted to create “the” place to eat, drink and play in the city – an antidote to the out-of-date sports pubs of the past. I spent a lot of time researching venues in the US (where they take their sports really seriously) and this heavily shaped our thinking around The Box.

The Box needed to be more than simply a great place to watch live sports, it had to deliver an unmatched experience. As a sports fanatic and someone with strong connections to various teams and clubs across Yorkshire, I was emotionally invested in creating a venue I knew those teams would enjoy as well as an inclusive space that appealed to a broad customer base seeking entertainment – not just guys watching football.

I think we’ve achieved that. In fact, I know we have. We’re thrilled the success and innovative approach embedded at The Box has been rewarded by it being crowned “best new bar” at the recent Publican Awards. It’s validation of our thinking as a business and huge recognition that we have created something special for our guests.

Of course this success wasn’t achieved by accident – it was incredibly hard work. We invested £1.3m in the site and a lot more blood, sweat and tears as the team debated and refined the design ahead of launch. I hired female designers to challenge our thinking and ensure the bar had a female-friendly and inclusive feel to it through the interiors, styling and colour palette.

The layout is flexible, with bookable booths and bar stools, sharing tables and relaxed “social seating”. The industrial-style furniture is designed with sharing in mind and for guests to get up and dance on the benches when the live music or DJ gets going. The solid wood oak floors and wall panelling with monochrome tiling details nods to a motor racing chequered flag theme.

Two full-size Maplewood European shuffleboards take centre stage, surrounded by sharing tables for groups to book. As you enter the bar there is an impressive ceiling-suspended television rig with feature lights and glitter balls to illuminate the dance floor in front of the stage. One of the bar’s hireable private dining rooms has its own darts lane with electronic scoreboard.

Our focus on experiences is reflected by the drinks-led innovation that features Budvar tank beer suspended above the bar, making it a real focal point. It sets the standard so when customers set foot in the venue they know you are dedicated to serving them a quality pint. It’s our best-seller on draught, averaging about 2,000 pints a week.

The Box also features exclusive cocktails on tap, our own-recipe Martinis to name just a couple, which is a real point of difference that drives guest loyalty and shows our commitment to running an inclusive venue offering entertainment for all in its broadest sense.

Our pizza oven is also on show in an open-style kitchen, offering a sense of theatre and inviting customers to enjoy being part of the overall experience. This means the bar transforms into an eating and socialising spot all at once.

We think we’ve created a blueprint for the modern sports bar. Feedback from our customers supports this and we see it in our sales figures with The Box trading well above expected levels and on track to be our first £1m profit site. However, we aren’t resting on our laurels. As we refine the offer and understand what is popular with customers, we’ll look to introduce new experiential activities while remaining focused on fostering that special atmosphere.

What particularly pleases me is The Box’s success is proof that our strategy of operating sites in clusters, with our core bar brands in close proximity and complementary to each other, is winning in our chosen markets. Next time you’re in Leeds come and see us – it’s a game changer.

Martin Wolstencroft is chief executive of Arc Inspirations, the Leeds-based operator of a number of fast-growing brands

To receive emails from us and keep up to date with the latest jobs and industry news, please complete the short form below.  We will never share your email with any third parties.

    (*) required fields

    Privacy Policy

    The Recruitment Room is committed to protecting the privacy of our candidates, clients and users of our website and services. This policy sets out what personal data we collect from you and how we process and protect that data when you use our website or services. We will only use your personal data in accordance with the terms of this statement.

    Any usage below of ‘we’, ‘us’ or ‘our’ is a reference to The Recruitment Room Ltd and The Recruitment Room.

    We may update this policy occasionally. If we make any changes to our privacy policy, we will post the updated policy on our website. We therefore encourage you to visit our website from time to time in order to keep up to date with the terms of the policy and any potential changes. Amendments made to the policy will not jeopardise the protection and privacy of your personal data.

    The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will be applicable law in the UK from the 25th of May 2018. Your new rights in accordance with GDPR are included in this policy but will only apply once the GDPR comes into effect on the 25th of May.

    Personal information we may gather from you

    As a recruitment business we must process personal data (including sensitive personal data) in order to provide recruitment services to our clients and candidates. In doing so, we act as a data controller.

    You may give your personal details to us directly, such as on a CV, an application or registration form, via our website or by corresponding with us by phone, email or otherwise. Personal data that we may collect includes:



    email address

    phone number



    employment history




    Please note however, that this list is not exhaustive.

    Depending on the nature of the role that you have applied for or that we have offered you, we may need to collect personal sensitive data. Under the General Data Protection Regulation this includes information about your health (for example details concerning any sick leave you may have taken during previous roles), information about any disability and details of any offences you may have committed or are alleged to have committed.

    Personal information from other sources

    We may also collect your personal information from another source such as a jobs board, personal recommendations or LinkedIn.

    Do you have to provide us with personal data?

    You may refuse to give us your personal and sensitive personal data. You also have the right to ask us to delete, change or stop processing your data that we already have (see below in what circumstances). If you do not provide us with personal or sensitive personal data however, it may restrict our ability to provide you with the recruitment and other related services that you have requested.

    Purpose of processing and legal basis

    We will collect your personal data (which may include sensitive personal data) and process that data for the following purposes:

    To provide you with work-finding services to facilitate the recruitment process;

    to assess your suitability for a position;

    to tailor resources and services according to your preferences;

    to maintain our business relationship, where you are a candidate, client or a user of our website;

    to perform administration and operational functions.

    The Recruitment Room must have a legal basis for processing your personal data. The legal bases we rely upon to pursue our processing purposes are:

    Our legitimate interests in providing you with our services. Such interests can however, be overridden by your privacy interests; legal obligation in some cases, where it is necessary for us to meet our legal or regulatory responsibilities; your consent to data processing for the activities not covered by our legitimate interests, which we will obtain from you from time to time.

    An example of a situation where we would rely on consent is when we ask for permission to introduce you to a client; contractual obligations to which you are subject. This includes situations where we are negotiating or have entered into a placement agreement with you or any other contract to provide services to you.

    Legitimate interest

    Where The Recruitment Room has relied on a legitimate interest to process your personal data our legitimate interests is as follows:

    To offer you the tailored and efficient recruitment service you expect of us.

    As a recruitment business, we introduce candidates to clients for permanent and temporary employment as well as offering clients’ vacancies to candidates. In order to do so, the exchange of personal data of our clients and candidates is essential to our operation. In order to support our candidates’ ambitions and to assist our clients with their resourcing needs, we also require to keep a database of client and candidate personal data. Furthermore, to maintain, expand and develop our business we need to record the data of prospective candidates and client data.

    We want to offer you a tailored service that is customised based on the information that you provide us with. We also want to offer an efficient service, which means that we need to use your data for payroll and other administrative activities.

    Third Parties

    As a recruitment business we may disclose your information to third parties where appropriate. The Recruitment Room may share your information with the following third parties:

    Our clients, in other words, prospective employers.

    Payment intermediaries such as an umbrella company.

    Pre-employment screening companies.

    Government and law enforcement authorities.

    Outsourced IT and document storage providers, for example servers and cloud-based data storage services.

    Third party service providers, such as lawyers, accountants and technical support.

    Any third party that we may share your data with must ensure the security of that data. Third parties are also obliged to only use your information for the purposes we have outlined. We will not pass on sensitive data to third parties without your consent, unless we are legally required to do so.

    Overseas Transfers

    The Recruitment Room may transfer only the information you provide to us to countries outside the European Economic Area (‘EEA’) for the purposes of providing you with work-finding services. We will take steps to ensure adequate protections are in place to ensure the security of your information. The EEA comprises the EU member states plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.

    How long we store your information

    The Recruitment Room will retain your personal data only for as long as is necessary. Different laws require us to keep different data for different periods of time.

    The Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses Regulations 2003, require us to keep work-seeker records for at least one year from (a) the date of their creation or (b) after the date on which we last provide you with work-finding services.

    We must also keep your payroll records, holiday pay, sick pay and pensions auto-enrolment records for as long as is legally required by HMRC and associated national minimum wage, social security and tax legislation.

    Where we have obtained your consent to process your personal and sensitive personal data, we will keep your data for 2 years after the last meaningful contact with you. Upon expiry of that period we will seek further consent from you. If consent is not granted, we will delete the personal data that we hold on you.

    Your rights

    Please be aware that you have the following data protection rights:

    The right to be informed about the personal data we process on you;

    The right of access to the personal data we process on you;

    The right to rectification of your personal data;

    The right to erasure of your personal data in certain circumstances;

    The right to restrict processing of your personal data;

    The right to data portability in certain circumstances;

    The right to object to the processing of your personal data that was based on a public or legitimate interest;

    The right not to be subjected to automated decision making and profiling; and

    The right to withdraw consent at any time.

    Where you have consented to us processing your personal and sensitive data you have the right to withdraw that consent at any time by contacting our data protection officer (see below).

    Complaints or queries

    If you wish to complain about this privacy policy or any of the procedures set out in it, please contact our data protection officer Carole Williams at

    You also have the right to raise concerns with Information Commissioner’s Office on 0303 123 1113 or at, or any other relevant supervisory authority should your personal data be processed outside of the UK, if you believe that your data protection rights have not been adhered to.

    The Recruitment Room

    Tel: 0113 322 0660