Popular pub-restaurant group proves safety reaps rewards

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Oakman Inns runs 28 pub-restaurants across Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, Northamptonshire, Oxfordshire, Warwickshire and beyond

The Oakman Group proves safety reaps rewards after issuing a trade update for the 13 weeks ending Sunday, October 4.

In brief, The Oakman Group, which consists of Oakman Inns and Ashmore Inns, traded 40.6 per cent higher at £15.1m sales with the four fledgling Ashmore Inns contributing £1.3m.

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Oakman Inns’ 24 pubs and restaurants showed a Like-for-Like increase of 25.4 per cent, up £2.7m. Wet Sales were up 12.7 per cent and Dry up 45.5 per cent on Like-for-Like sales. Unsurprisingly, room sales across the estate were down 52.3 per cent.

Oakman Inns' CEO, Dermot King and Executive Chair Peter Borg-NealOakman Inns' CEO, Dermot King and Executive Chair Peter Borg-Neal
Oakman Inns' CEO, Dermot King and Executive Chair Peter Borg-Neal

This is the highest sales quarter in the group’s history and comes at a time when many parts of the hospitality industry are facing an uncertain future, due to a certain extent to HMG’s use of untested scientific theory.

Peter Borg-Neal, executive chairman, said: “Oakman has delivered the highest sales quarter in our history and in doing so have made considerable progress to restoring the damage done to our Balance Sheet during lockdown.

"Conversely, our pubs which are situated mainly in commuter belt market towns and in destination locations, have a substantial food offer, extensive internal areas and, in most cases, large gardens, have been ideally suited to the new trading conditions.

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"As a management team, we anticipated this scenario and were well prepared for reopening. The first decision we took was to commit to our people to do everything we could to protect their health and livelihoods.

"Key to the latter objective was the development of an industry leading Covid-safe protocol designed to not only reassure our customers and team members with respect to their safety but, also, to ensure we retained the vital ingredient of ‘pubbiness’.

"Our operating systems were carefully designed to create a seamless and relaxing experience for our guests.

"In addition, all information materials and signage were delivered with clear non-alarmist messaging and utilised our normal corporate colour schemes rather than warning tape and hazard style signage.

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"Considerable effort also went into communicating our plans to our customers which paid immediate dividends when we reopened."

Furthermore, the figures are even more impressive given that even removing the benefit of VAT cuts and the EOTHO scheme, they would still show double digit growth in Like-for-Likes.

Overall, staff numbers have increased, perhaps encouraged by the company’s award-winning career and training programme and a community engagement policy which makes Oakman Inns part of the heart of their communities.

The planning and policies adopted right at the beginning of the pandemic, in which Oakman Inns sought to provide a welcoming, yet bio-secure environment as far as was possible, has created an environment in which many of the pubs have become havens of normality in a world saddened by Government restrictions.

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Dermot King, CEO, said: “Whilst we unfortunately had to take the tough decision to reduce the size of our central team, we have created more jobs in our sites and I am very proud that we now employ over 100 more people than we did before lockdown.

"Along with the rest of the sector we have been impacted in recent weeks by the Government decision to impose a curfew and are braced for further challenges given the spectre of more Government restrictions ahead.

"However, we have the balance sheet to withstand further shocks and I remain optimistic given that we have a proven ability to adapt effectively and respond positively when faced with adversity."

Oakman Inns has also planned for winter by creating soon-to-be-launched modular glazed garden pods that are warm, bright, and light and will comfortably sit a “bubble” of 6 people.



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