Oakman updates on challenges and improvements

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

Site success: the Journeyman in Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire is reporting weekly sales figures of more than £60,000 (image: Oakman Group)
Site success: the Journeyman in Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire is reporting weekly sales figures of more than £60,000 (image: Oakman Group)

Related tags Multi-site pub operators Finance Pubco + head office

CEO of multiple operator Oakman Group Peter Borg-Neal has updated the company’s response to industry challenges and trading improvements in a recent shareholder letter.

He outlined the group’s sales for the financial year to June 2023 were 8% ahead of the previous year to just under £70m. Furthermore, like-for-like sales for the core Oakman Inns business were up by 4.1%.

However, consistent with the wider industry, Oakman’s profits for the financial year were impacted by inflation with site earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) down to £9.8m from £12m.

In the letter, he outlined a variety of initiatives to drive efficiency such as enhancing pricing policies, cost reductions, refocusing training, improving employee engagement and optimising labour scheduling in a bid to increase site EBITDA in the current year by £2.5m and reduce central overhead costs by £1.3m.

The quarter of the 2023-2024 financial year was the company’s most profitable quarter since December 2021, Borg-Neal said.

Corporate structure

He added: “Furthermore, we are already tracking 10% ahead of the prior year for Christmas bookings.

“We have also consolidated our corporate structure, which had become unnecessarily complicated since its inception more than 16 years ago and this has reduce administration and management overheads.”

The Oakman CEO also reported two new sites had opened​ during the summer – the Journeyman in Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire and the George in Ludlow, Shropshire, which were trading ahead of expectations with weekly sales (net of VAT) in excess of £60,000 and £40,000 respectively.

Moreover, Oakman’s pipeline includes two additional sites with planning permission. These are Bush Hall in Old Hatfield, Hertfordshire and the Beech House in Epsom, Surrey and lease terms have also been agreed for Batchwood Hall in St Albans, Hertfordshire.

Borg-Neal also announced the launch of a new £10m loan note, secured against the company’s property portfolio, to assist with the development of the new sites and refinance £5m of third-party debt.

Long-promised liquidity

The company had discussed this with key Oakman investors and has now raised around £5.5m, exceeding the threshold required to repay the bank. Further details on this refinancing and how it will unlock a liquidity event for shareholders for those investors who so wish, will be revealed at the company’s forthcoming AGM.

Chairman John Leslie said: “Peter stepped back into the role of CEO eight months ago​ and has thrown himself at the challenges with vigour, determination and resourcefulness.

“There is no doubt Oakman is very well-regarded in the industry as a top-quality operation and has high-quality assets.

“We are confident we will deliver our long-promised liquidity event at some point in 2024 with further details to be announced to shareholders shortly.”

Oakman Inns sites:

Royal Foresters, Ascot, Berkshire

The Rose Inn, Wokingham, Berkshire

The Woburn, Woburn, Bedfordshire

White Hart, Ampthill, Bedfordshire

Akeman Inn, Kingswood, Bicester, Buckinghamshire

Beech House, Amersham, Buckinghamshire

Beech House, Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire

Cherry Tree, Olney, Buckinghamshire

Betsey Wynne, Swanbourne, Buckinghamshire

Grand Junction Arms, Buckingham, Buckinghamshire

The Journeyman, Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire

The Pointer, Brill, Buckinghamshire (Seafood Pub Company)

The Polecat, Prestwood, Buckinghamshire

Three Locks, Stoke Hammond, Buckinghamshire (Seafood Pub Company)

King’s Head, Chipping Ongar, Essex

The Anchor, Hullbridge, Essex

Grand Junction Arms, Tring, Hertfordshire (Seafood Pub Company)

Kings Arms, Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire

Banyers House, Royston, Hertfordshire

Beech House, St Albans, Hertfordshire

Beech House, Watford, Hertfordshire

Red Lion, Water End, Hertfordshire

The Akeman, Tring, Hertfordshire

Alma Inn, Colne, Lancashire (Seafood Pub Company)

Derby Arms, Longridge, near Preston, Lancashire (Seafood Pub Company)

Farmers Arms, Great Eccleston, Lancashire (Seafood Pub Company)

The Fenwick, Claughton, Lancashire (Seafood Pub Company)

Forest, Fence, Lancashire (Seafood Pub Company)

The Hesketh, Rufford, Lancashire (Seafood Pub Company)

Navigation Inn, Cosgrove, Northamptonshire

Blue Boar, Witney, Oxfordshire

Crown & Thistle, Abingdon, Oxfordshire

Old Post Office, Wallingford, Oxfordshire

The George, Ludlow, Shropshire

Beech House, Hampton Hill, south west London

White Swan, Twickenham, south west London

The Lost Boy, Farnham, Surrey

Four Alls, Welford-on-Avon, Warwickshire

Navigation Inn, Lapworth, Warwickshire (Seafood Pub Company)

The Globe, Warwick, Warwickshire

Beech House, Solihull, West Midlands

The Fleece, Addingham, West Yorkshire (Seafood Pub Company)

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