Oakman Inns says Award overshadowed by new Home Office Policy

Casual Dining Awards LtoR: Nick Proctor – CEO amber energy, Peter Borg-Neal – CEO Oakman Inns, Host Tom Allen

The year has started well for pub group, Oakman Inns, which owns and operates six pubs in Buckinghamshire (see list below) which picked up two awards on Thursday night (20th February). Ranked for a fifth year in the top 30 of the Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to Work For 2020, they are this year’s highest rated multi-site pub company with the top accolade of three stars.

Oakman Inns, which employs over 1,000 people who work across its 24 establishments in Southern England and the West Midlands, is a progressive, people-oriented company that truly believes in team engagement and has a strong desire to allow each team member to be the best they can be. At the heart of their development programme is ‘Oakmanology’, an award-winning learning and skills hub which was designed in-house by Oakman’s HR team, and which takes employees through both craft and leadership development, using a mix of online micro-learning opportunities including fact sheets, quizzes, eLearning, face to face training, videos and assessments. In the Best Companies survey, staff regard their training as being of great personal benefit, scoring 80%, team members see plenty of opportunities to learn and grow (75%) and they say the operation does its bit for the environment (77%).

The awards continued to flow at annual The Casual Dining Awards, where Oakman won the annual Sustainable Operator Award for their non-stop effort to become environmentally better in everything they do. The company was also Highly Recommended in The Best Pub or Bar Brand of the Year, a recognition of the results of an effective, well-trained, and highly motivated team and a desire to be the best can have on a business.

CEO Peter Borg-Neal said: “It was a very emotional night as I saw the results and recognition that my company’s team, every one of them, received in public. It is a huge honour and privilege to work with them all, and they are the reasons that this company, which is only just over twelve years old, has grown and developed. We don’t stop trying, we don’t stop caring and we’ll never stop trying to please.”

Peter added: “Winning the Sustainable Operator Award underlines a fundamental and core belief that we can only work and live together, if we all pull together. We recently started working with the charity, CleanConscience, which recycles and repurposes our leftover guest soaps and toiletries. The idea to help CleanConscience was entirely a staff initiative and shows that it only requires us to make a little extra effort, to have a potentially enormous impact – lowering landfill, creating employment and training, providing overseas aid and support. I would recommend all our industry colleagues who have the capability and practical multiples of bedrooms to investigate this.”

Peter Borg-Neal is also pleading with Home Secretary, Priti Patel, to reconsider her opinion of staff in the hospitality industry. “These are highly skilled people with a high degree of responsibility. If they didn’t shoulder that responsibility, there would be no need for a Food Standards Agency, or guidelines and instructions on Allergens management. There would be no MasterChef or Sommelier of The Year. There would be no incentive to work in the industry or to see it as an aspirational career path – all because Priti Patel has this rather strange view of the people who serve her whenever she goes out.”

Oakman Inns is shortlisted in two awards (Pub Employer of the Year & Best Managed Pub Group) at this year’s Publican Awards, the industry’s ‘Oscars’, which take place on 4th March.