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Tue 30th Apr 2019 - Oakman completes acquisition of seven freehold pubs operated for Downing, new Hickory's site
Oakman completes acquisition of seven freehold pubs operated for Downing: Oakman Inns and Restaurants has completed the acquisition of seven freehold pubs with combined Ebitda of £2.8m from funds managed by Downing. The transaction was completed in three tranches with the purchase of two companies Downoak (The Akeman in Tring, The Akeman Inn in Kingswood and The Crown & Thistle in Abingdon) and Hedderwick (Banyers House in Royston and The Cherry Tree in Olney) as well as The Globe in Warwick, which was previously held in a partnership. Following last year’s purchase of Ei Group’s share of Hunky Dory Pubs, Oakman Inns said the acquisition continued the key strategic initiative of uniting all its trading activities within the parent business. Chief executive and founder Peter Borg-Neal said: “Oakman Inns and Downing have worked together since Steven Kenee and myself shook hands on our first deal in 2014. At that point, Oakman had seven pubs and a great trading record with sales of more than £10m but faced huge issues with a dysfunctional banking relationship and a shortage of growth capital. Five years later, we have just opened our 23rd pub and achieved sales of £38m. Over those five years our relationship with Steven Kenee and Downing has been instrumental in our success. Our deal to buy seven of the freehold pubs we operated for Downing is a transformational one for Oakman. However, while it represents the high point of our relationship with Downing to date, it doesn’t mark the end of it. We still provide support to Apprise, a Downing-backed company, and Downing has provided loan capital for our recently acquired freehold in Buckingham. Furthermore, we are exploring fresh ideas to work profitably together in the future.” Kenee added: “Oakman has always demonstrated a principled approach to its business combined with award-winning staff development programmes, concern for the environment and a commitment for socially responsible work with the communities it serves. This admirable ethos, coupled with a focus on ensuring the highest-quality customer experience, has generated industry-leading sales and profitability growth as well as delivering great returns for our investors.” The deal marks the culmination of an excellent 12 months for Oakman Inns, with a series of successful openings and growth – total sales for the 52 weeks to 31 March 2019 were up 32.7% to £37.7m with like-for-likes up 6.4%. Since the year end, Oakman has reopened the refurbished and enlarged Beech House in Beaconsfield and opened The Polecat Inn in Prestwood, with both sites performing “substantially ahead of expectation”. The company has three sites awaiting development – in Wokingham, Farnham and Buckingham – and has agreed deals on a further two sites.

Hickory’s Smokehouse to open in Poynton: American-style smokehouse and barbecue brand Hickory’s is to open a site in Poynton, Cheshire. The venue will launch on the site of former pub The Vernon Arms and will be the brand’s tenth venue, with other sites in Chester, West Kirby, Burton Green, Wall Heath, Rhos-on-Sea, Castle Bromwich, Southport, Worcester and Gresty Green. Once fully refurbished, the Poynton restaurant will feature an open kitchen, chef’s bar and dining areas for 150 guests. There will also be a children’s cinema room and dedicated bar. The outside area will also undergo a makeover to include a veranda and courtyard, while Hickory’s hopes to develop a community nature trail and dipping pond on land that hasn’t been open to the public before. Hickory’s Smokehouse owner Neil McDonnell said: “South Manchester has been on our wish list of locations for some time. Our sister sites across the north west have been embraced by their communities so coming to Poynton is exciting for us all.” McDonnell founded Hickory’s in Chester in 2010 following extensive research into the American barbecue and smokehouse sector.

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