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Sat 26th Jun 2021 - Oakman to launch further shareholder benefits, sales up 36% on 2019
Oakman to launch further shareholder benefits, sales up 36% on 2019: The Oakman Group is to introduce further shareholder benefits such as access to a soon to be launched Oakman Wine Club and an Oakman Development Club, as it said it saw food and beverage sales in the five weeks since it has been allowed to trade indoors up 36% on the same period in 2019. Steven Kenee, chief investment officer at Oakman, said: “Everything we do, from the way we invest in our staff to how we develop our sites, is designed to create long-term sustainable value. Central to this strategy is our desire to be owned by our staff and customers for the long term and for this ownership to be rewarded via a combination of dividends and investor discounts and incentives. This is important as our customers and staff want us to build a quality business that will stand the test of time. Whereas private equity investors are focused on maximising the value of their exit in the short-term, this strategy is at clear odds with our objectives and beliefs. In December 2020 we launched a customer focused equity programme with another in May. This has been a great success having raised £5.5m and welcomed almost 400 new investors to the Oakman family. We are now taking this further with the introduction of further shareholder benefits such as access to the soon to be launched Oakman Wine Club and the Oakman Development Club, the latter of which will give our shareholders the opportunity to earn tax free interest on loans secured against our freehold properties via an innovative finance ISA as well as working with the UK Listing Authority in order to remove the current eligibility tests on our investor portal that has excluded some of our customers from being able to invest. We believe this long-term approach is why our experience of the last few months of trading has both been so positive and so at odds with the national media commentary on our sector. For instance, there are widespread stories of businesses struggling to find and retain staff. Our experience is different. Out of some 1,200 employees we have lost less than 80 between January and April and that includes young people returning to university when they were allowed to. While we do have a few positions to fill, we have used lockdown to train and then promote many of those who work for us. It has been the same with sales, which, without wanting to oversell it, have been nothing short of phenomenal and well ahead of the wider eating out market. Excluding the new openings, food and beverage sales in the five weeks since we have been allowed to trade indoors have been 36% higher than the same period in 2019 and have, on average, been 38% higher than the market. Why have we been doing so well? While we clearly benefit from having good-quality, large sites that are well located to take advantage of changes in consumer behaviour such as an increase in working from home, we believe the outperformance is largely a result of management action. That is, the dual impact of heavily investing in our outside spaces during the last lockdown (we now have as many covers outside as we do inside) and our focus on not only retaining our staff but ensuring they are well trained, motivated and match-fit for when the doors reopened.”


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