St Austell ‘planning to grow estate to more than 200 pubs’

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

Investment site: St Austell revamped the Masons Arms in Branscombe, Devon at the beginning of 2022
Investment site: St Austell revamped the Masons Arms in Branscombe, Devon at the beginning of 2022

Related tags St austell Beer Property

South-west based business St Austell is looking to expand its portfolio over the next few years, boss Kevin Georgel has said.

In light of this, The Morning Advertiser ​has taken a look at how the business has grown over recent years.

St Austell currently has more than 180 pubs, inns and hotels across the West Country including managed houses and tenancies.

In January 2020, then outgoing CEO James Staughton, who had been part of the business for four decades, outlined the company’s future plans.

At that time, he said​: “We’re always going to be very inquisitive and we will get to 200 pubs one day.”

At the end of January this year, the company invested £2m in a 14th​ century pub in Devon. The Masons Arms in Branscombe received the multi-million-pound refurb and is set to open before Easter.

Acquisition history

Furthermore, it will create 15 new jobs including roles such as front-of-house and back-of-house staff, chefs and housekeepers.

The pub has 28 rooms, which are dog friendly, and a converted cottage, low-beamed ceilings, pine cladding, whitewashed walls and a log fire.

In 2016, St Austell bought fellow West Country brewer and pub company Bath Ales for an undisclosed sum. The deal included the purchase of Bath Ales’ brewery, all of its beer brands and its 11 pubs​.

For the next four years, the company didn’t undertake any acquisition activity but in September 2018, St Austell bought the Griffin Inn, located in Bath’s city centre.

This was followed by the business opening its first managed house in Dorset – the Rock Point Inn, Lyme Regis later on in 2018.

As part of the deal, the Rock Point and Cobb Fish Bar complex became part of St Austell Brewery’s estate of west country pubs, inns and hotels having been under the same owners since 1984.

Future plans

Looking ahead, St Austell Brewery chief executive Kevin Georgel said: “We are very positive about our future growth prospects and look forward to continue strengthening our legacy as a leading south west hospitality business.

“Undeniably, the industry faces several challenges, which we will be working to tackle this year, such as supply chain issues, operating more sustainably and lowering our carbon emissions, and most importantly, building on the strong recovery we’ve seen after the pandemic.

“We are also passionate about attracting the best talent and nurturing their skills through investment in the training and development of our employees. This will help our business to reach our full potential in years to come.

“Over the past few years, the south west has increasingly become a destination of choice, for tourists as well as those looking to move to the region for a better quality of life, so we are excited to showcase the best the area has to offer and drive interest to our fantastic pubs and inns, while supporting the growth of the regional economy too.”

Georgel described the company has an “acquisitive business”, echoing Staunton’s comments about plans to grow the estate.

He added: “We have 180 pubs and inns across Cornwall, Devon, Somerset and Dorset and are an acquisitive business, so we look forward to seeing our estate grow to over 200 pubs over the next few years.

“As a historic brewer with strong heritage, we also continue to build our portfolio of award-winning beers. As preferences shift, it is important that we are always innovating and modernising to delight our customers with our high-quality products.”

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