Persistence, not age, is the key to entrepreneurial success, a leading Midlands businessman has said.

Adrian Fawcett, chief operating officer of Punch Taverns, said that ageism is slowly disappearing in business as experience is becoming increasingly valued.

"Age should not be seen as a barrier to development," he said.

"The entrepreneurial population is ageing as life experience often creates a more effective and astute businessman."

Mr Fawcett's comments came after the announcement that he will be a guest speaker at this year's Open05 conference at Birmingham's ICC.

The event - sponsored by the The Birmingham Post, Allied Irish Bank, Birmingham Business Link and Andersons KBS - aims to provide medium-sized businesses with networking opportunities and the chance to pick the brains of successful entrepreneurs across a wide range of industries.

Mr Fawcett joined Punch in January 2004 from his position as corporate vicepresident for Belgian brewer, Interbrew.

From 1996 to 2001 he held a number of roles at Bass Brewers, which culminated in his position as group managing director of Bass Brewers Operating Companies.

He led the division through its sale to Interbrew and the subsequent restructuring and divestment of Carling to Coors Brewers in 2002.

He was also instrumental in the creation and development of - the internet portal and business-building service for the hospitality industry.

Originally form Skipton in North Yorkshire, he now lives in Henley- in- Arden, Warwickshire.

Since he arrived at Punch, the group has undergone a rapid growth.

Mr Fawcett said:"When I arrived, Punch was undervalued. Its potential just wasn't being realised.

"In the last two years Punch has gone from 4000 to 8200

pubs in the UK - we attempt to buy a pub every two days."

In July 2005 the Burtonon-Trent group acquired a further 409 pubs with the purchase of Avebury Taverns.

"Growth needs to be both through acquisition and organically. As the company gets bigger it's important that it becomes stronger and more robust," Mr Fawcett said.

Now he wants other Midlands entrepreneurs to embrace new opportunities, including recognising the potential of the pub industry.

He said:"We have been slow to market the pub as a business to entrepreneurs. This is an ideal opportunity to encourage people to realise the opportunities that are there for the taking."

"I want to challenge the Midlands' entrepreneurs to ask themselves, 'am I doing the best I can?' and to think of new opportunities."

Mr Fawcett said part of the role of an entrepreneur was to achieve what most would not attempt. "If it's difficult it's probably worth doing," he said. "And if it is difficult to do then it stops others emulating you, which can only be a good thing.

"Not every idea will work and not every venture will succeed, but that's OK as long as we learn from our mistakes." Mr Fawcett believes the secret to success is applying global market trends locally.

He said: "You need to have a clear understanding of what your competitors are offering and identify gaps in the market early on."

"Successful entrepreneurs recognise that the same trends occurring on a macro scale apply to smaller markets too - so a trend affecting the country as a whole can probably be seen affecting a small town. Macro trends are being overlooked at the local scale."

Mr Fawcett will be speaking at Open05 on Wednesday, October 12 at the ICC in Birmingham.

The conference is aimed at managing directors or senior directors of growing businesses and delegate places are priced £250 plus vat. To book, visit or call 0121 237 6924.