Caterer and Hotelkeeper 100: Jonathan Neame, Shepherd Neame

06 December 2012
Caterer and Hotelkeeper 100: Jonathan Neame, Shepherd Neame

Overall ranking: 71 (NEW ENTRY)
Pub ranking: 10 (NEW ENTRY)

Jonathan Neame - Snapshot

Jonathan Neame is chief executive of Kent-based family brewer Shepherd Neame. The Faversham Brewery is Britain's oldest continuous brewing site, with the Neame family connection dating back to 1864, when Jonathan's great-great grandfather Percy Beale Neame became a partner in the business.

Shepherd Neame operates an estate of more than 350 pubs, including both managed and tenanted/leased businesses. The company brews its own beers, such as Spitfire Ale, and Bishop's Finger, as well as brewing international brands under licence, including Asahi, Samuel Adams Boston Lager, Kingfisher and Oranjeboom. The company reported turnover of £133m for the 53 weeks to 30 June 2012.

Jonathan Neame: Career Guide

Born in 1964, Jonathan Neame initially qualified as a barrister and worked as a management consultant with COBA Group from 1987 to 1991, when he joined the family business, Shepherd Neame. He was company secretary until July 1994 and tied trade director until 1999 when he became managing director. He was appointed chief executive in 2003.

Having served as vice-chairman of the British Beer &Pub Association and chaired the industry group's future beer group, in May 2012 he became BBPA chairman. He is also a non-executive director of the St Austell Brewery Company, and a trustee of the Leeds Castle Foundation.

Jonathan Neame - What we think

Faversham in Kent is a beer town, and few members of the ‘beerage', the group of families that make up Britain's traditional regional brewers and pub operators have more impeccable credentials than Jonathan Neame.

Kent has the dubious distinction of having long being the front line in the Beer Duty battle, thanks to the ‘white van man' army arriving at Dover and Folkestone laden with low-duty beer from France.

That helps to explain why, as well as focusing on their own business, the Neame family has also taken a lead in campaigning against unfair treatment of the UK beer and pub industry as a whole. Speaking at the BBPA annual dinner in October, Neame used his new-found status as the industry group's chairman to set out the case for the defence. ""When we pay 40 to 50 per cent of all revenues in excise duty and VAT, and Starbucks is paying next to nothing - something is very wrong with our system.

"This tax burden is despised by pub-goers, hated by beer drinkers, and is crushing for licensees. This is a tax on socialising, on communities, on friendship. It hits the poorest in our society hardest."
Alongside his defence of the industry as a whole, Neame has seized the challenge of moving the family business forward, respecting tradition at the same time as bringing modern retail disciplines into play. Both the managed and tenanted/leased businesses saw sales growth in the year to the end of June, and the quality of the estate has been improved with a number of acquisitions of both individual pubs and small packages.
The pub estate's location in the garden of England has enabled Shepherd Neame to become a champion of local food, sourcing from specialist producers and suppliers. The quality of the beer on offer has also improved on Jonathan's watch. Investment in the Faversham brewery site has not only increased the range of ales produced by Shepherd Neame, but also attracted overseas brewers looking to have their beers produced under licence.
Jonathan Neame summed up his philosophy when he took on his new role at the BBPA this year. "In Britain we should all cherish and celebrate the role of beer and pubs. They are vital to the country's economic, social and cultural life and with the right support should be a driver of growth, investment and job creation."

Shepherd Neame enjoys record turnover on strong beer sales >>Shepherd Neame buys Royal Wells hotel >>

Jonathan Neame to become new BBPA chairman >>

Shepherd Neame joins campaign to cut VAT in pubs >>

Shepherd Neame website >>

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