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Publican Awards Winners: Business Leader of the Year sponsored by Poppleston Allen - Peter Borg-Neal

By Georgina Townshend , 16-Mar-2017
Last updated on 20-Mar-2017 at 10:10 GMT2017-03-20T10:10:32Z

Publican Awards Winners: Business Leader of the Year

An intense focus on quality shines through in the career of Peter Borg-Neal, the founder and chief executive of Oakman Inns. 

Since opening the Akeman in his home town of Tring, Hertfordshire, a decade ago, he has grown the pub-restaurant business in a steady exponential curve and now has 17 sites, with an 18th on the way.
Each has been more ambitious in scale, yet all pride themselves on their engagement with local communities as much as the food and drink they serve.

Reflecting that, group turnover increased by more than 50% in the last financial year, with every site exceeding £30,000 a week in takings.

And Oakman is a multiple award-winner, picking up three titles at the 2015 Publican Awards alone. Significantly, they were for Best Employer and Best Community Pub Operator, as well as for Best New Opening.

Borg-Neal appreciates the importance of training and motivating his people and as well as high levels of knowledge and service clearly evident to guests, there is a real family feel about the business.

The community award may have been more surprising to some but it’s key to Borg-Neal’s vision that while being food-led, his venues
act like old-fashioned pubs in being at the hub of things and supporting local causes.

Pubs are in Borg-Neal’s blood. He started out working as a cellar boy in Reading, Berkshire, and by the age of 18 was head barman and set on his chosen career. After taking a course in hospitality management in 1985 he joined managed house chain Allied Domecq Retailing as an assistant manager, rising to become a director of the company’s south-eastern arm, Taylor Walker.

Then it was time for him to test his mettle and go it alone, launching his first venture, Green Belt Inns, in 1995. A stint as operations director for Whitbread followed before he struck out on his own again, this time with an Italian restaurant in Tring.

Forno Vivo was voted UK Pizza Restaurant of the Year in 2003, and its eventual sale set Borg-Neal up to pursue his true destiny in 2006 as the head of his own pub chain.

He grew Oakman Inns slowly but steadily over the following years, establishing a firm base. He now seems set for accelerated expansion, last year launching a spin-off, Hunky Dory Pubs, in a joint venture with Ei Group.

With Borg-Neal’s know-how, passion for quality and attention to detail, you get the feeling his journey has only just begun.

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