Ed Sheeran hits Ale Trail

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

Thinking out loud: Ed Sheeran told licensees at the Saracen’s Head the Ale Trail is a great idea
Thinking out loud: Ed Sheeran told licensees at the Saracen’s Head the Ale Trail is a great idea
Pop star Ed Sheeran has completed the Brakspear Henley Ale Trail, which included stopping for a pint at the Saracen’s Head pub in the riverside town.

The Ale Trail takes in 10 pubs in Henley-on-Thames and participants who visit all the sites can claim a free T-shirt.

Co-licensee of the pub Mel Roberson, who runs its with her husband Colin, said: “Colin came to me and said ‘I think Ed Sheeran is in the bar’.

“We Googled a picture of him to make sure it was and he was so friendly. He stayed for a game of pool and said what a great idea the Ale Trail is – apparently he only has one pub where he lives.”

Brakspear marketing manager Emma Sweet offered the acclaimed songwriter a gig at the annual Ale Trail party.

Live music

She said: “We are delighted Sheeran has completed the Ale Trail and had a chance to enjoy our pubs, which are so much a part of the social life of the town.

“We hope to see him sporting his Henley Ale Trail T-shirt on stage and hope he will join us at our annual Ale Trail party in January.

“We always book a live music act for the party so if Sheeran would like the gig, we would be very happy to consider him!”

Meanwhile, JT Davies & Sons, the parent company of Brakspear, reported an 11% rise in turnover to £28.3m​ in August 2018.

This generated EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation) of £7.7m – a 7% decline on the previous year.

Satisfactory year

The decline in EBITDA is attributed to industry-wide factors such as business rates and the increasing costs of employment, in addition to significant expenditure by Brakspear on the acquisition of a new managed site and the transfer of two others (the Little Angel in Henley, Oxfordshire, and the Dog & Duck in Wokingham, Berkshire) to its managed estate.

Brakspear’s portfolio of managed houses generated £3m in sales growth – contributing to £11.8m annual turnover for the company’s managed house division – while like-for-like sales grew by £500,000, a 5% year-on-year increase.

In the tenanted and leased estate, a £200,000 decline in turnover was recorded alongside flat like-for-like sales.

Brakspear chief executive Tom Davies commented: “Last year was a satisfactory one for Brakspear. Our core tenanted and leased business continues to trade well. I believe we have some of the best pubs in the tenanted and leased sector, run by some of the most talented operators.

“Our managed estate is developing in line with expectations, despite cost pressures impacting the 2017 result. We have recently invested in our managed operations teams and I am confident that this will lead to further improved service, sales and profitability.”

Related topics: Beer

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