Oakman Inns sets out plans for brighter future

Rather than waiting for the green shoots of recovery to appear, Tring-based premium pub company, Oakman Inns is proactively going out and sowing the seeds of that recovery now.

Pipeline update
Oakman has a substantial pipeline of sites ready for development during 2021. In addition to existing sites in Buckingham, Wokingham and Epsom they have now added a substantial freehold site in Harpenden. Further announcements are expected in the near future with a number of negotiations taking place to further accelerate growth.

Executive Chairman, Peter Borg-Neal (pictured right), commented, “We believe that there is a huge unsatisfied consumer demand for premium public houses right across the UK. Large pubs with a strong all day food offer, a high level of amenity and, most importantly, great people running them is the future of the pub market. We want to play a big part in fulfilling that demand.”

Fundraise update
Oakman’s growth ambitions will require funding and, with private equity funds focusing on distressed assets, Oakman launched an equity fund raise just before Christmas aimed at private individuals. Despite the unhelpful backdrop of the national lockdown there has been an excellent response.

Chief Investment Officer, Steven Kenee commented, “I am thrilled to announce that we have already received applications for over £3.6m of shares and we are quietly confident that we will reach the £4.5m target we set for this round.

'I am also really pleased that we have welcomed 170 new shareholders into the Oakman family. Their participation demonstrates the trust and affection our customers have for their local Oakman Inn.

'To meet all our ambitions, we will require further funding; however, we only want business partners who are interested in long-term, intelligent investment into a sustainable business model.”

Reopening plan
Oakman delivered a record quarter during the time the business was able to trade during 2020 and CEO, Dermot King (pictured left), is bullish about the prospects of the business when the time comes to reopen.

King commented, “Our remarkable performance last year has left us brimming with confidence for the future. Reopening will, of course, be a challenge but the fantastic teams that delivered that performance are still with us and are raring to go again.

'We will open all our pubs on the very first day we are allowed to do so, and we expect to trade very strongly from day one. During lockdown we have worked hard to keep our people engaged and we have also developed some exciting new products that will add to our forward momentum.'

Cook at Home scheme rolls out
Chef Director, Ross Pike, has been busy creating new ‘Oakman at Home’ dining opportunities for their regulars.

The Cook at Home Meal Kits feature Home Comfort favourites such as their Slow Roast Belly of Pork and their Ultimate Burger from their restaurant menu. A special three-course Valentine’s Feast has been added with a series of more dishes and themed boxes promised over the coming weeks.

Deli & takeaway trialled
At The Royal Foresters, they have opened an experimental Deli and Bakery for locals and lockdown chefs desperately seeking that missing ingredient, and more dishes have been added to their growing Takeaway Menu including more wood-fired Pizzas, Sunday Roasts and Meal Bundles.

King said, “We have the teams, we have the kitchens, we have the sustainable food suppliers and now we have established a second-to-none delivery service, we will be powering ahead with our new services. Many of our regulars and neighbours have been asking us to make our food available across the 12 counties we currently operate in.”

Hospitality industry recognition
The Group is delighted to announce that they have been peer nominated and shortlisted in three categories of The MCA Retailers’ Retailer Awards 2021: The Royal Foresters, Ascot in Best Venue; Oakman Inns in Best Company and Peter Borg-Neal in the category Retailers' Retailer of the Year.

Oakman team remains engaged during lockdown
Oakman’s near-1000 employees have been kept engaged and in good spirits. A massive Facebook group for existing team members provides a range of activities from wellness sessions, voluntary online training courses, quizzes, photographic competitions, baking tournaments and even a fund-raising 5K Run, Ride or Walk for the MIND charity.

Zoom meetings, support groups and a policy of ensuring that those excluded from Government financial support or furlough schemes are found employment are all designed to ensure that no team member falls through any cracks.

King added, “It may not be clear yet when we will be able to open, but when the time comes, our people and our pubs will be ready and better than ever. In the meantime, we have some excellent new sites in the development pipeline.”