Oakman Inns are a huge local success story with a portfolio that now includes the King’s Arms in Berkhamsted, Red Lion in Water End, Hemel Hempstead, the Akeman Inn at Kingswood near Aylesbury, the Betsey Wynne in Swanbourne, the White Hart at Ampthill and its original venture The Akeman in Tring.
The company, founded by Tring entrepeneur Peter Borg-Neal also has pub restaurants elsewhere including the Globe in Warwick, The Crown & Thistle in Abingdon, The Old Post Office in Wallingford, The Navigation at Thrupp Wharf, Cosgrove, the Blue Boar in Witney, Kings Head in Chipping Ongar and Beech House in St Albans.
With a handful of nominations at the pub industry’s biggest awards event, and having been named last week as the highest ranked Pub Company in “The Sunday Times 100 Best Companies To Work For”, Oakman Inns’ founder and CEO Peter Borg-Neal could not hide his pride for his teams.
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“They are young, clever, enthusiastic, fun and inspire me all the time,” Mr Borgh-Neal said.
“My managers are great leaders, my chefs are skilful and talented, my graduate trainees are aspiring to running great hospitable venues in their own right and every one of my team wants to give their customers the best experience they can.”
Alex Ford, operations director, said: “To be in the top 50 in ‘The Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to Work For’ for the second year running is a credit to every one of our team – they are our business – we are, after all, a people business - and we’re determined to be there again next year.”
The Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to Work For 2016 commendation reads:
“Encouraging the 487 staff - 60% of whom work full-time -- to nurture their talents and bring craft back to the hospitality industry has been a focus this year for the Hertfordshire-based chain under its newly introduced ‘Oakmanology’ scheme. The learning platform uses YouTube films, in-house videos and factsheets to educate staff in a skill, guiding their expertise in the likes of wine, barista knowledge and butchery. This initiative is an example of the personal benefit employees feel they receive from in-house training (a 75% positive score).
“Within the same scheme, information is available on work-based issues such as the effects of alcohol, standing for long periods and stress at work. Stress is also minimized by the realistic deadlines set by managers (75%, a top-15 score). The recent introduction of online health audits for managers, an employee assistance programme offering counselling and a confidential helpline have all contributed to Oakman Inns’ 16th place among mid-size Best Companies for Wellbeing (69%).”
The Oakman team now waits with bated breath for the results of The Publican Awards which will be announced at a glittering event on next week (March 15th) at the Battersea Evolution where they have been nominated for three awards:
Best Community Pub Operator
Best New Pub/Bar: The Navigation Inn, Cosgrove, Northamptonshire
Best Pub Employer (2-50 sites)
The omens are good because the firm has form having has won all three of these awards in the past – last year they had just opened The Beech House in St Albans – and since 2009, Oakman has won or been shortlisted for a dozen of the prestigious “Pub Oscars”.