Oakman eyes £5.3m shareholder raise

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

Business update: Oakman CEO Dermot King (left) and chairman Peter Borg-Neal (right) (image: Oakman Group)
Business update: Oakman CEO Dermot King (left) and chairman Peter Borg-Neal (right) (image: Oakman Group)

Related tags Multi-site pub operators London Oakman Group Pubco + head office Property

Multiple operator The Oakman Group is looking to raise £5.3m from shareholders, it revealed in a half year trading update to Sunday 1 January 2023.

The results showed total sales were £36,164,127, which was up by 41.5% compared to 2019. Like-for-like sales had risen by 9.8% against three years ago.

When compared to 2021, total actual sales were up by 10.4% and with VAT adjusted, it was up 17.5%.

Actual like-for-like sales compared to 2021 increased slightly (1.1%) and will VAT adjusted, which was up by 7.6%.

Furthermore, Oakman’s December sales were a record period of £8,231,137 with total sales up by more than a third (34.3%) compared to 2019 and like-for-like sales were up by 6.5% also against 2019.

Executive chairman and Oakman founder Peter Borg-Neal said: “We have continued to outperform sector averages over the past six months, which reflects great credit on Dermot King and his team.

“We believe our locations and market positions have given us a competitive advantage in the current environment has been key to our out-performance. We continue to maintain our properties, train our people and develop our offer.

“We expect our growth to accelerate further over the coming months. It is an unfortunate consequence of their current situation many of our competitors will be closing their doors – some temporarily, some permanently.”

Supportive shareholders

While there have already been many closures, Borg-Neal predicted many more will come in the next few months.

He added: “This supply side adjustment does, of course, benefit those businesses that are still open and indeed, our sales over the past couple of weeks show very strong growth over the past year.”

Oakman is looking to raise £5.3m from shareholders through a discounted share placement to help provide a buffer in a bid to protect the business from any further worsening of the external climate and the company will return to market for further funding once the environment has improved.

Borg-Neal said the business had very supportive shareholders and he was confident the raise would be successful.

However, the business has a pipeline of six sites to convert into the flagship Oakman Inn brand, which are in Gerrard’s Cross, Ludlow, Epsom, Old Hatfield, Harpenden and St Albans with the first of these being the Journeyman in Gerrards Cross, starting next month (February).

The founder added: “The Oakman Inn, our core brand, has now growth to 28 sites and the average weekly sales per site for the year to date exceeds £42,000 net of VAT.

“We are extremely happy with the positioning of the business and we have an outstanding pipeline of Oakman Inn sites we intend to develop over the next 18 months.

“The Seafood Pub collection now has 11 sites within its portfolio. The focus will be on investing further in those sites and developing the concept before we look at any further acquisitions.”

Fully confident

He outlined the board remained fully committed to an exit/liquidity event however, this would only be when market conditions were in a place the business could secure its appropriate value.

“We are fully confident of the future performance and to exit prematurely would be detrimental to all,” Borg-Neal added.

Moreover, on sector issues, the multiple operator boss highlighted what the Government needs to do to support the sector.

He said: “It is clear we are going to get little help from the Government in the current climate. That may well turn out to be a good thing. In my opinion, we need to stop campaigning for short-term interventions to support our sector.

“The focus needs to be on long-term structural change. Our sector is ridiculously overtaxed compared to the rest of Europe.

“We should focus our efforts and campaign on two issues only – business rates and VAT. The first is an antiquated tax that delivers an unfair burden on our sector.

“The second is ridiculous. For there to be no VAT on processed meals but for VAT to be charged on food in our sites is an abject nonsense.

“Furthermore, I think it can be proven these taxes reduce income for the revenue by depressing growth in our sector.”

Borg-Neal urged trade bodies to focus their efforts on these two issues and not be distracted elsewhere.

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