Tring-based pub operator Oakman Inns & Restaurants, has said it has witnessed a slow down in trade since Brexit, despite the Euro 2016 Championships.
Announcing generally positive results for the first quarter, founder and CEO Peter Borg-Neal said that he expected tough times ahead for the sector. He suggested, however, that the Oakman estate was slightly protected by its location in wealthy areas. It intends to press on with plans for two additional sites.
Like-for-like growth in quarter one for the 15-strong estate was 5.1%, while MAT like-for-like growth was 6.1%. The pubs are located in Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Northamptonshire, Oxfordshire and the West Midlands.
'The rate of growth has been slower in recent weeks at around 2%,' said Borg-Neal. 'We had expected some fall off as major sporting tournaments are negative for us but we, like most people, didn’t anticipate the result of the EU referendum.
'I think it would be foolhardy to claim that the prevalent uncertainty in the economy is not of concern. Certainly, we believe that the economy will slow and there is a chance of recession. However, we have no London exposure and our focus on the prosperous South East provides a degree of reassurance.
'As ever, when the economy wobbles, the battle for market share tends to intensify. We will not be slowing down our plans for growth and we have agreed terms for two more sites in Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire.
'These are in addition to the site we have previously acquired in Amersham. We already have an impressive pipeline to work with and expect to agree deals on some additional sites by the end of the summer.'
Oakman will open its first Hunky Dory Pub in Solihull in August, as part of its new partnership with Enterprise Inns under the latter’s ‘Managed Expert partnership’ scheme. The partnerships see the pubco joining with ‘industry-leading’ managed house operators ‘to benefit from their retailing capability’. It will become the third site under Oakman's fledgling Beech House brand.