Marston’s PLC is a leading independent brewing and pub retailing business with a 180 year history. The business has more than 14,000 employees at around 1,600 pubs, breweries, depots, hotels and offices across the UK with a culture that is focused on delivering a great customer experience.

The Recruitment Challenge

Marston’s was about to commence on a journey spending over £180k on a new website and ATS. The newly appointed Head of HR Business Partnering was asked by the Group HR Director to look into the project and found that the programme had been approached in the same way that the recruitment teams had been set up – siloed.

Uncovering the need

A host of sessions were held to understand the barriers to recruiting, retaining and developing the best possible people in the industry Marston’s looked at the candidate journey from the initial application stage and mapped out every touch point, quickly realising a lot of pain points. The existing ATS had serious limitations and was causing problems - and they were up against tight timescales as the ATS contract was about to expire and Marston’s fi rst needed to review how best to approach the candidate journey.

There was a wider organisational need for a clear Employer Value Proposition (EVP). But the underlying challenges needed to be addressed in a structured way or, in essence, they would be creating the same levels of complexity, just with a different provider.  

There was also the challenge of finding and recruiting candidates/operators who are the perfect fit for the varied business operations with differing needs and requirements. Marston’s realised that if its back-end system was not fit for purpose and caused candidates to disengage and drop off, they would need to fix that first and streamline efficiencies.

Project Scope

Marston’s recruitment is managed across the different business areas and is quite diverse. Recruiting for a team member for a pub is very different to finding a potential business partner to run one of their pubs or to a head brewer to make their beer! Marston’s managed pub estate, of which there are 500 sites, is marketed as a number of sub-brands. In addition to this, the business also owns over 1,000 pubs that it operates under a variety of agreements; namely tenanted, leased and franchised. Key HR and Recruitment representatives took part in the stakeholder discovery sessions which uncovered a number of issues:

1. Marston’s EVP and ATS/E-recruitment system needed to marry up or else it just wouldn’t work.
2. The existing recruitment system wasn’t fit for purpose. A core issue was that it was not mobile responsive and the candidate experience was poor.
3. There were frustrations with the existing ATS not being aligned to future talent and the recruitment workflows were not flexible for each business area.

The project scope would be split into two stages:
1. ATS implementation - understanding the target audience, making tweaks to the careers site to enable mobile responsiveness and search etc as a priority. This was time critical due to the current system expiry. 

2. Aligning the EVP to the HR agenda with stretching but realistic timescales including redevelopment of the careers site, online onboarding, ATS integrations with SAP and SSO and the introduction of a portal for Pub Manager’s to support with candidates.

Overcoming a Cultural Shift

The project team had to demonstrate that while the existing HR system might have been a suitable choice because it could integrate into the business, other e-recruitment platforms could also integrate with ease and provide a combination of core functionality across the recruitment journey to give Marston’s a commercial advantage and deliver on its strategy.

Eploy’s best of breed platform was chosen as the preferred recruitment technology partner as it offered extensive functionality to address unique requirements across each division that the core HR system couldn’t offer.


Eploy’s web based ATS/e-recruitment platform was implemented in just 10 weeks, being rolled out to over 800 Hiring Managers across the business resulting in 2,913 vacancies being raised in the first few months. Up to 3000 candidates per month are registering for Marston’s job alerts, ensuring an efficient talent pool for recruiters to search from.

• The improved quality of the recruitment updates deliver a true business partner relationship with the operational stakeholders.
• Using real-time metrics in visual dashboards on generation sources, ROI and recruiter activity logs has led to stronger business decisions being made and increased credibility as a HR team. The visibility of the number of candidates our recruiters are managing through a recruitment workflow has led to us investing in an additional recruiter to the team.

“Eploy provides visual activity logs via a dashboard to enable our Recruitment Manager to monitor activity against agreed SLA’s, leading to an enhance candidate experience. The use of talent groups has enabled recruiters from across the PLC to share talent resulting in a more proactive and collaborative approach to candidate sourcing.

“Through analysis of our recruitment data we have not renewed contracts with certain suppliers and have ceased sending posted mailshots to our competitors saving over £30,000 per annum for the Taverns business so far.”

“We now know an average of 48% of applications are completed on mobile devices. Performance reports have enabled us to really understand our early engagement through our careers site registrations, applications and offers – we can drill down on what we need to improve on and what is working to engage and recruit candidates who are the perfect fit.

“In the first few weeks of go-live we could see that of the 6,504 who started the online registration process, 98% completed registration and 80% then registered and applied for roles.

“We have also been able to use the extensive reporting capability to understand our Application to Hire ratio which has shown the number of applicants per channel required to make a hire. This revealed some surprises as to where successful hires come from – as opposed to where the volume of applicants come from. It will focus our marketing eff orts to build on these candidate sourcing channels.

“Giving recruitment autonomy to over 800 line managers across the PLC has given us valuable data on our true recruitment levels which has led to more efficient recruitment practices being adopted by both recruiters and hiring managers. The design of Eploy means that we can take ownership of our workflows and create/amend them as we see fit. As a result we have a team who can make timely changes to business demands as we need them.

“Perhaps the biggest impact has been its ability to add weight to our discussions as HR Business Partners. Our ability to demonstrate an accurate picture of what is happening with recruitment across the PLC, being able to respond to changing business needs and provide detailed analysis in real time has resulted in more valued relationships and collaborative decisions being made.” - Emma Whitehouse, Head of HR Business Partnering.

Marston’s journey is by no means complete. Having completed phase one, the HR team are working on phase two in developing the EVP and careers website to continue attracting stronger talent and providing an even better online candidate experience.

Chris Bogh, CTO at Eploy commented “Marston’s now have a solid foundation that combines Applicant Tracking, Recruitment CRM, Talent Pools and Analytics in a unified recruitment platform to support an excellent candidate experience and underpin their EVP. Working with them to deliver a flexible and agile system has delivered benefits on many levels.”

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