Pubs and Bars

Oakman plans further sites amid sales boost

The pub group said it does not expect to be negatively impacted by the recently introduced ‘Plan B’ restrictions and is forecasting year-end sales in excess of £64m

The Oakman Group has unveiled details of further expansion plans, with plans to open 70 sites by June 2026, having welcomed a period of sales growth in its latest trading update. 

The pub group delivered sales of just over £26m in the 21 weeks ended 5 December, having reported a like-for-like sales growth of 16.3% and total sales growth of 34.1% against the same period in 2019. 

In addition, Oakman said it does not expect to be negatively impacted by the recently introduced ‘Plan B’ restrictions and is forecasting year-end sales in excess of £64m.

In light of the positive sales results, the group plans to continue its expansion plans, having already added nine new sites to its portfolio since the start of the pandemic. 

These consist of six Seafood Pubs, The Grand Junction at Bulbourne near Tring, The Woburn and, the most recently opened, The Rose in Wokingham. These latest sites took the total number from 27 to 36.

The group said The Rose has traded “extremely well” since opening in October and is averaging in excess of £40k net per week. 

Further new sites are set to open in 2022, with planning permission secured for Watford, Epsom and Ludlow. The company has also acquired a freehold site in Harpenden and has applied for planning permission to develop a three-storey pub, to be named Kingston House. 

In addition, negotiations are said to be at an advanced stage for a site in Gerrards Cross and for further locations in Oxfordshire, Hertfordshire and Lancashire.

Work will also start next year on a major project, Bush Hall in Old Hatfield, that is set to be completed in 2023.

Executive chairman, Peter Borg-Neal, said: “We have by far the best pipeline we have ever had and are looking forward to the future with great confidence. All our new sites are performing ahead of expectation. I am particularly pleased with The Rose in Wokingham. I think it is one of the best developments we have ever done and its stellar performance since opening is proof that the good people of Wokingham agree. 

“However, it is not just about the new sites. Our core estate continues to deliver big numbers with reassuring regularity. To see sites such as The Akeman in Tring and The Kings Arms in Berkhamsted, that are over ten years old, deliver sales in excess of £50k during November is not only heart-warming but also evidence of the longevity of our business.”

Dermot King, CEO, said: “I am delighted with our progress to date, and I want to thank everyone in the Oakman family for their extraordinary efforts over the last eight months since re-opening. During this time, we have seen our business thrive against the most difficult challenges. This success hasn’t come from nowhere: it is an outcome of our huge focus on people. I often explain to people that we are not a pub company that develops people – we are a people development company that operates pubs.

“Our training is led by our in-house trainers who we call ‘Ninjas’ and we now have 213 of them with another 268 in the pipeline awaiting sign-off. Through our Ninjas we deliver an incredibly high level of training and support to our people.” 

He added: “We are not unduly concerned by the Plan B restrictions. Our pubs are very safe places due to the modern ventilation systems we have installed, and our super-fast broadband is ideal for those choosing to work from home. Although we have seen some corporate bookings cancelled, they are being rapidly replaced by smaller, family bookings and I expect Christmas trading to be very strong.”

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