'An inspiration to us all': Stonegate pubs founder Ian Payne to retire in 2024

17 November 2023 by
'An inspiration to us all': Stonegate pubs founder Ian Payne to retire in 2024

Ian Payne MBE is to step down from his role as chairman at Britain's biggest pub company Stonegate Group and retire from the industry at the end of January 2024.

Payne, 70, founded Stonegate with 333 pubs 13 years ago and has since grown the business to 4,500 sites which employ more than 16,000 people.

He said leading the company had been the "greatest privilege" of his 50-year career.

Payne began managing his first pub in 1973 before rising through the ranks at Whitbread, Guinness and Bass Taverns.

He led the buyout of the majority of the Whitbread pub business as chief executive of Laurel Pub Company before becoming chairman of Bay Restaurant Group and City Pub Company.

In 2010, he founded Stonegate with the acquisition of 333 sites from Mitchells and Butlers. It is now the largest pub and bar company in Britain with brands including Slug & Lettuce, Be at One and Popworld.

Payne also led the company through over a dozen acquisitions and the impact of Brexit, coronavirus lockdowns and rising inflation.

His contribution to the hospitality industry was recognised in 2018 when he was awarded an MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours list.

Payne said: "Leading Stonegate has been the greatest privilege in my long career. I love pubs and bars and the great people that work in them. There are so many talented individuals in the hospitality industry, and I have always tried to help people build successful careers in the licensed trade.

"As I reflect on the challenges that I have faced over the past 50 years I am filled with hope and excitement for the future. Pubs and bars have always been an integral part of what makes our country unique and the fundamental need to meet, eat, drink, and socialise will always be a part of us."

David McDowall, chief executive of Stonegate, said Payne was "an inspiration to us all".

"I would like to personally thank him not only for the support and guidance he has given me since becoming CEO, but also for the role he has played in the careers of so many people over the last fifty years," McDowall added.

"He has been a true champion of our industry. He retires with our deepest thanks and best wishes. I look forward to toasting his retirement in due course."

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