The Victorian canal-side pub, which the locally-based premium pub company purchased last spring, opened on Monday 28 March following a six month redesign. The traditional SPC blue and white palette has been updated, and the new brand promise of ‘Serving food from Land and Sea’ has been added, according to The Oakman Group divisional managing director Joycelyn Neve.
The Oakman Group founder and executive chairman Peter Borg-Neal admitted he had always wanted to own the site, and said “this was bubbling away in the back of my mind for some time.
“A long time ago, my son Éamonn and I had discussed what we’d do to improve it after years of insensitive piecemeal alterations. While we knew the building and the garden would require a great deal of work, we could see the potential and when I showed it to Joycelyn, she was convinced it would make an excellent Seafood Pub.”
Borg-Neal continued to say the SPC acquisition had been a “great success” for the Oakman Group. “As expected, it has been a good cultural fit and the business has seamlessly merged into the Oakman family,” he said. “The pubs are trading well and present a new dimension to our expansion plans for the future.”
Joycelyn Neve said she had “really enjoyed” becoming part of the Oakman family, and it was great to be surrounded by people on her side who knew what they were doing.
In May 2021, the company relaunched the six original Seafood Pub sites after significant renovations. According to Neve, trading in those pubs was 21.5% ahead of pre-Covid performance: the team was “delighted” by these results.
Exciting times for SPC
Furthermore, the Pointer at Brill, Buckinghamshire, was converted into a Seafood Pub in October- the business’ first site in the south, with this week’s opening of the Grand Junction Arms bringing the group’s number of sites to eight. Neve also said there were two sites in the immediate pipeline- one in Buckinghamshire and one in Lancashire.
Neve said: “Consequently, this is an incredibly exciting time for the SPC. Combining what was always a great brand with the best-in-class team at Oakman has given us the bandwidth and firepower to achieve the growth and results we are delivering. The Grand Junction Arms will be the biggest investment in a SPC site to date and we are very optimistic about what we can achieve here.
“The opening is particularly significant being in Tring where Oakman began, and with Éamonn Borg-Neal, Peter’s son, being the general manager. After 10 years in the Oakman Inns estate, Éamonn is ideally positioned to be a key part of our growth in the south.”