Pub group, Oakman Inns, has completed the acquisition of seven freehold public houses with combined EBITDA of €3.3m (£2.8m) from funds managed by Downing LLP. The transaction was completed in three tranches with the purchase of two companies Downoak (The Akeman, Tring, The Akeman Inn, Kingswood; The Crown & Thistle, Abingdon) and Hedderwick (Banyers House, Royston; The Cherry Tree, 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, this deal continues the key strategic initiative of uniting all of the Oakman Inns trading activities within the parent business.
Peter Borg-Neal, CEO and Founder of Oakman Inns, commented: “Oakman Inns and Downing LLP 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 over €11.7m (£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, last year achieved sales of €44.5m (£38m) and were recently named by Alix Partners as the fastest growing pub company in the UK. Over those five years, our relationship with Steven Kenee and Downing has been instrumental in our success. In 2014, Downoak Ltd was created, a vehicle that developed the hugely successful Akeman Inn in Kingswood before acquiring three of our freeholds, enabling us to break free from our unhelpful banking arrangement. Downoak has gone from strength to strength with those four pubs enjoying sales of nearly €8.2m (£7m) per year in 2018/19. Our recently announced 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 does not mark the end of it. We still provide support to Apprise Limited, 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. In my mind, the key feature of our relationship with Downing has been the way they have sought to fully understand our funding challenges and to find innovative ways of meeting our needs and creating solutions that work for both parties – the acid test of any successful business partnership.”
Downing Partner, Steven Kenee commented: “I am immensely proud to have been able to help support the impressive growth of Oakman over the past four and a half years. Oakman has always demonstrated a principled approach to their business combined with award-winning staff development programmes, a concern for the environment and a commitment for socially responsible work with the communities they serve. 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. We have had a great relationship with Oakman which is based on the fundamental principles of trust and a desire to find win-win solutions to any problem and it will remain a genuine pleasure to continue to work with them.”