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Top 100: Jonathan Neame, Shepherd Neame

19 April 2018 by
Top 100: Jonathan Neame, Shepherd Neame

Overall ranking: 16 (ranked 71 in 2012)

Pub and bar operator ranking: 4 (10 in 2012)


What we think

"Jonathan has done a superb job representing our industry, galvanising the members to work together and leading effective campaigns delivering results for the whole industry - including a historic hat-trick of beer duty cuts," said Heineken UK's David Forde when he succeeded Neame in 2015 as chairman of the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA). Neame's three years in the role coincided with George Osborne's three consecutive "penny off a pint" budgets, which may not have been quite enough to secure the prosperity of the great British pub in perpetuity, but was a great example of what the industry can achieve with co-ordinated lobbying.

The Neame family itself hasn't quite been brewing in Faversham as long as the brewery itself - Neame's great-great grandfather Percy Beale Neame became a partner in the business back in 1864 - but being the oldest known continuously brewing site in Britain is an important part of the Shepherd Neame story.

After qualifying as a barrister, Neame worked as a management consultant before joining the family business. He was company secretary until July 1994 and tied trade director until 1999, when he became managing director, and was appointed chief executive in 2003.

The family's active role in lobbying at an industry level in part reflects Kent's dubious distinction of having long been at 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. Early in his stint as BBPA chairman, Neame set out the industry's stall: "When we pay 40%-50% of all revenues in excise duty and VAT, and Starbucks is paying next to nothing, something is very wrong with our system." Five years on, that inequity remains a live issue for the sector.

His industry role hasn't distracted Neame from the family business. The 14 pubs acquired in the last financial year, at a cost of £24.8m, included five from Village Green Restaurants and eight from EI Group. Acquisitions, as well as new-build pubs in leisure locations such as Chatham Dockyard, have refined the retail arm of the business, and there is a menu focus on local produce from Kent. On the brewing side, alongside established brands such as Spitfire and Bishops Finger, and a contract brewing arm that produces beers such as Sam Adams Boston Lager, the brewery has established the craft-oriented Whitstable Bay range.

Further information

Investment drives up Shepherd Neame turnover >>

Shepherd Neame buys five Kent restaurants for £12m >>

Shepherd Neame chief executive Jonathan Neame on moderning a 300-year-old business >>

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