Oakman Inns offers shares to customers to raise £4.5m for growth

Independent pub group, Oakman Group, which owns and operates 27 pubs in and around market towns in Southern England and the West Midlands, is looking beyond the current restrictions on trading to capitalise on the post-pandemic market conditions to grow the size of its business.

The business, which has an annual turnover is £44m, has consistently delivered industry-leading results posting their highest ever sales period between the last two lockdowns, which out-performed the market by an average of over 40% (according to CGA Peach Tracker).

The group’s Founder & Executive Chairman, Peter Borg-Neal (pictured right), believes that the time is right to accelerate the growth of the company he founded in 2007 by raising capital to fund a trail of acquisitions in 2021.

Over the last 13 years, the firm has funded its careful expansion by raising capital from an extended network of individual investors and word-of-mouth recommendations. Now, The board believes the time is right to open this up and from 11 December they will give their customers, regulars and communities a chance to own part of the business.

Chief Investment Officer, Steven Kenee said, “We are aiming to raise £4.5m from the sale of shares at £2.75 each. There will be a minimum investment of 350 shares - or £962.50 per person.

'As well buying shares, new shareholders will also receive access to exclusive events, new menu tastings, meet the supplier events and an Investors’ Card which will give them a range of all year discounts based on the amount invested.

'Whilst these incentives are a way to reward investors, the real reason for putting them in place is to create a closer connection with our customers and to help build a more direct relationship with the Oakman community.

'To support this, we’ve created The Oakman Investor Platform to manage the process ourselves, rather using a third party. This characterises our culture at Oakman - always opting to invest in long term sustainable solutions, rather than quick and easy wins.”

Borg-Neal said, “We enjoyed a stellar performance following LD1 and by the time we had to go back into LD2, sales were trading £2.5m ahead of budget.

'To help cope with the impact of this wave of restrictions, we have successfully developed our outdoor areas and created over 1,000 heated and covered outside spaces - an investment that we expect to benefit the business long after the restrictions on meeting indoors have been removed.

'We’ve tried to create an offer that allows everyone to be able to take a small stake in their local for less than the cost of a weekly Sunday brunch for two.”

CEO Dermot King (pictured left) added, “Whilst Britain’s economy, and High Streets, in particular, have been hit hard by the pandemic, the end is in sight and we are committed to turn a challenge into an opportunity and do our part to help drive the recovery.

'By opening more sites, we will not only create a significant number of jobs, but we will also be doing our part to help to regenerate the High Street.

'We believe that the long-term changes in consumer behaviour, such as the move to working from home, coupled with the tragic and unnecessary failure of many smaller pubs and restaurants, means that we are well-positioned to gain further market share.

'Our company is financially stable, and once the fund-raising is completed, we will proceed with our development plans. We have over a dozen new sites in our pipeline, most of which we will develop and open next year. We expect many more opportunities to present themselves over the next 12 months and aim to double the size of our existing estate by 2026.”

The Oakman Group, which employs around 1,000 people and has been ranked in the top 30 of the Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to Work For five times, will be presented with their second Princess Royal Training Award this month, a recognition of the emphasis the company places on its staff. In the new year, the company will also be setting up an innovative scheme to allow staff to buy shares in the business.

Borg-Neal said, “Ever since we opened our first pub in 2007, we have always put our staff at the heart of everything we do. That way, they can put our customers at the heart of everything they do. Staff retention is one of the most significant drivers of profit, and it creates a perfect economic circle because it allows us to invest earnings into staff training, career development and welfare.”

From the beginning of the pandemic, Borg-Neal and King, with other hospitality industry leaders, have been lobbying the Government tirelessly to help protect the UK pub and restaurant sector. Oakman provided advice to the Cabinet Office on the industry’s best practice in Covid-secure health and safety measures, and Borg-Neal’s campaigning efforts were recently rewarded with two prestigious industry awards voted for by his peers.