Mark Davies steps down as Hawthorn CEO as Admiral deal completes

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

Company news: Admiral boss Chris Jowsey said the deal was one of the company's biggest acquisitions to date (image: Getty/Cecilie_Arcurs)
Company news: Admiral boss Chris Jowsey said the deal was one of the company's biggest acquisitions to date (image: Getty/Cecilie_Arcurs)

Related tags Admiral taverns Hawthorn leisure Pubco + head office Finance

Hawthorn, the Community Pub Company chief executive Mark Davies has stepped down as the firm’s CEO following the completion of the purchase by Admiral Taverns.

The deal was first announced in July this year where Hawthorn was sold to Admiral for an expected gross aggregate cash consideration of about £222.3m​, taking the latter’s estate to more than 1,600 sites.

Davies, who has been at Hawthorn’s parent company NewRiver for more than a decade, described running Hawthorn as a “great honour” in his career.

He said: “In seven years, we have built a leading and well-respected community pub company with a high-quality management team, a best-in-class operating platform and industry-leading licensee satisfaction scores.

“This is a testament to my team, the culture that we have created, and the way we run our business.

“When I started my career in professional sport and went on to qualify as a chartered accountant, I never envisaged that I would end up growing and leading such a successful pub company."

High quality business and team

He added: “From day one of Hawthorn, I have been touched by the passion and commitment that runs right through this great sector. From the pub partners and operators who do so much for their local communities, to the central teams who work so hard to support them, and my fellow CEOs, who I have been lucky to get to know and work alongside closely through the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA).”

The company’s people are its greatest asset, Davies said and outlined how proud of the way the firm had worked with its pub partners and operators to help them run their businesses, especially amid the pandemic

“The team that I have been fortunate to lead is talented, hardworking, committed, and loyal, and I’d like to thank them all," he added.

“Our ambition at Hawthorn was to create the UK’s number one community pub operator, and the decision to explore an IPO alongside private sale was taken with the goal of securing the funding to help us grow and realise that objective. We were successful in receiving the strong support of the capital markets and a number of leading private equity firms, which is a testament to the high quality business and team.

“In Admiral, we have found a culturally likeminded and supportive operator who will take this business forward. I wish Chris Jowsey and the team every success in the future. To my Hawthorn team, a sincere thank you for all you have done for me and the business.

“It has been a pleasure and a privilege to grow a new pub company at pace and achieve so much with Hawthorn in a few short years. This has been a wonderful journey, and I’m looking forward to what the future holds.”

One of Admiral's biggest acquisitions

Davies will continue as a board member of the BBPA, chairman of the BBPA Finance Committee and chairman of the Welsh Beer & Pub Association until further notice.

On the deal completion, Admiral Taverns chief executive Chris Jowsey welcomed the new licensees and colleagues.

He said: “This is one of the biggest acquisitions by Admiral to date and marks a significant step forward against our strategy, allowing us to acquire an excellent portfolio of 674 pubs, which we look forward to developing through our award-winning and highly supportive approach."

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