Oakman Inns acquires 7 pubs with £2.8m combined profit

By Nikkie Sutton

- Last updated on GMT

Joining forces: Oakman Inns boss Peter Borg-Neal outlined the deal between the business and investment experts Downing
Joining forces: Oakman Inns boss Peter Borg-Neal outlined the deal between the business and investment experts Downing
Multiple operator Oakman Inns has completed the acquisition of seven freehold pubs with combined earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of £2.8m.

The transaction was completed with the purchase of two pub companies – Downoak and Hedderwick – from funds managed by investment consultancy Downing.

The pubs from Downoak are the Akeman in Tring, Hertfordshire; the Akeman Inn, Kingswood, Buckinghamshire; and the Crown & Thistle in Abingdon, Oxfordshire.

Hedderwick pubs included Banyers House in Royston, Hertfordshire, and the Cherry Tree in Olney, Buckinghamshire.

Oakman Inns CEO and founder Peter Borg-Neal said: “Oakman Inns and Downing have worked together since partner Steven Kenee and myself shook hands on our first deal in 2014.

“At that point, Oakman had seven pubs and a great trading record with sales of more than £10m but faced huge issues with a dysfunctional banking relationship and a shortage of growth capital."

Fastest growing

He added: “Five years later we have just opened our 23rd pub, achieved sales of £38m last year and have been recently named by AlixPartners as the fastest growing pub company in the UK.”

Borg-Neal reflected on the time since his business and the investment experts made their first deal in 2014.

He said: “Over those five years, our relationship with Kenee and Downing has been instrumental in our success. In 2014, Downoak was created, a vehicle that developed the hugely successful Akeman Inn in Kingswood, Buckinghamshire, before acquiring three of our freeholds, enabling us to break free from our unhelpful banking arrangement.

“Downoak has gone from strength to strength with those four pubs enjoying sales of nearly £7m per year in 2018-2019.

“Oakman and Downing also became partners in the Globe, Warwick, Warwickshire and with Hedderwick in 2016. Hedderwick acquired sales in Olney, Buckinghamshire, and Royston, Hertfordshire, which it developed into the very successful Cherry Tree and Banyers House respectively.

“In 2016, the Royal Foresters in Ascot, Berkshire, came on to the market. Knowing it to be one of the best sites in the UK, I was determined to acquire it and it was Downing that we turned to for the initial funding.

“The deal was done utilising a bridging load before we refinanced it with the UK’s first pub-backed crowdfunded innovative ISA. This was a huge success, raising the £2.5m target in less than 24 hours.”

Transformational deal

The Oakman boss also highlighted exactly how Downing had helped the business acquire the new freeholds.

“Downing also provided bridging facilities when the opportunity to buy the freehold of the White Hart, Ampthill, came up and – in 2017 – invested £4.7m into Apprise, a new pub company for which Oakman Inns provide operational and managerial support,” Borg-Neal said.

“Our recently announced deal to buy seven of the freehold pubs we operated for Downing is a transformational one for Oakman.

“However, while it represents the high point of our relationship with Downing to date, it does not mark the end of it.

“We still provide support to Apprise, a Downing-backed company, and Downing has provided loan capital for our recently acquired freehold in Buckingham. Furthermore, we are exploring fresh ideas to work profitably together in the future.

“In my mind, the key feature of our relationship with Downing has been the way they have sought to fully understand our funding challenge and to find innovative ways of meeting our needs and creating solutions that work for both parties – the acid test of any successful business partnership.”

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