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Oakman Inns boss warns government: “Take action or investment will slow”

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Oakman Inns boss warns government: “Take action or investment will slow”

The founder of Oakman Inns & Restaurants is calling on the government to address the “level of business rates, planning law and unfair tax on food.”

Peter Borg-Neal made the comments in the company’s half-year financial results which were published today and reported a 8.6% rise in like-for-like sales for the first half of financial year.

For the 26 weeks ending 1 October, total group sales were also up 27.5% at £13.5m. However, Borg-Neal said it’s not been easy due to “the increase in input prices driven by sterling weakness.”

He said: “We have seen a large increase in food prices whilst being very wary of passing them on to the consumer. However, the biggest impact on us is being seen in our capital expenditure costs. Items such as kitchen equipment and building materials have increased dramatically. When this is set against some of the other challenges to our trading it seems to us very likely that, without Government intervention, there will be a significant slowing of investment in our industry.

“We need action on a number of fronts including addressing the absurd level of business rates, a streamlining of planning law and the removal of the unfair tax on food. Furthermore, I think landlords need to recognise that there have been some structural changes to the sector business model and they will have to be more realistic about rent expectations. Equally, I call upon industry colleagues to think about the level of rent they are prepared to sign up to.”

During the period, Oakman Inns acquired the Anchor in Hullbridge, Essex, and reopened the Betsey Wynne in Swanbourne, Buckinghamshire which the report said have “added to the momentum” as “both are trading ahead of expectation.”

The Oakman Collection comprises 20 sites in Berkshire; Bedfordshire; Buckinghamshire; Essex; Hertfordshire; Northamptonshire; Oxfordshire; Warwickshire and Solihull.

It has three sites planned to open in the first half of 2018: Beech House, Amersham; Cherry Tree, Olney; and Royal Foresters, Ascot.

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