Skip to main content

Case study - Foresters Arms, Tonbridge

A beautiful relationship has been blossoming between Tyson Marshall and Shepherd Neame over the eight years since he took on running the Foresters Arms in Tonbridge as a first-time licensee.

It has been one of mutual understanding and support, which has made great business sense for both the company and Tyson, after he opted to put his 25 years of hospitality experience into running his own place. And he is the first to admit: “It wouldn’t have been possible, this dream of mine, without Shepherd Neame.”

Australian-born Tyson, 49, started working in a pub at the age of 20 while travelling. That first experience grew into working in hospitality in locations all over the world, before almost eight years ago, deciding to run his own business.

By becoming a licensee with Shepherd Neame, he was able to benefit from all the knowledge, skills, experience and, importantly, financial backing that the Faversham-based independent family brewer and pub company could offer, while also having the freedom to run the pub the way he wanted.

“When you run a pub for other companies, after a while you think ‘I have the skills to do this on my own’ - it becomes a logical step. But I couldn’t have done this without Shepherd Neame as they made that transition possible. Without them being encouraging and open to my ideas, and understanding that I did have a lot of experience and passion, but didn’t necessarily have the money, it wouldn’t have worked,” he says.

“The brewery recognises that as business owners, our passion needs to be reflected in how we want to express ourselves. They leave me alone to do that because they recognise that I am the best person to push my business along. But they are also there when I need them.”

Tyson’s pub in Quarry Hill Road has a unique interior, with art, popular culture and music memorabilia covering the walls and ceilings, along with dozens of diverse pub games as well as a pizza menu and extensive drinks offering, including cocktails, which Tyson himself has an expert hand in, thanks to his varied career. 

“The Foresters Arms is my take on a traditional pub,” he says. “A pub for me is a great meeting place, where someone knows your name; where you can have fun or talk about the issues of the day, or for celebrations or commiserations. It changes and evolves all the time.”

He is keen for his pub to take its customers out of their phones and into the present. And he does that every day, knowing anything can happen – and relishing the unexpected!

“The joy of running a pub is that each day can be completely different or completely the same,” he says. “It keeps your brain percolating with how to problem solve and getting through the day and make everyone happy which is what we are here to do.”

He added that his experience through Covid, when Shepherd Neame immediately suspended all licensee rents as pubs weren’t able to open, is all the proof he needed that it was a terrific partnership. “That to me says everything you need to know about the brewery. When the times are hard, they are 100% there for you.”

Click here to find out more about the Foresters Arms: