Keith Liddell, the founder of northern pub operator the Inn Collection Group, has announced his retirement.
Liddell has stepped down from his role as executive deputy chairman to take up planned retirement after being at the helm of the pub company for more than 15 years.
He founded the company with his first Northumberland site, the Lindisfarne Inn, formerly the Plough at Beal, in 2006. The group now has 16 sites.
A 40-bedroom inn is under construction on Sunderland's seafront in Seaburn, while the group has accelerated growth plans to reach 22 sites by 31 March 2021.
Liddell said: "I have been very proud to be part of the Inn Collection Group's journey, through the good times as well as the current challenging situation we have all experienced and continue to do so.
"The Inn Collection Group has achieved countless accolades and successes over the years and its ability for continual evolution in its people and estate is down to the unique team behind it. I know I am stepping down safe in the knowledge that the company is in the best possible hands.
"We have exciting plans for the future as the group continues its buy and build expansion. This will provide much-needed employment opportunities across the north of England, bringing vital economic spend in the communities around our sites and, of course, giving our customers more superb places to eat, drink, sleep and explore from.
"But after 45 years of working non-stop in the trade, I'm due a bit of a break and being the customer."
Managing director Sean Donkin said: "Keith has taught us how to work hard while having fun and experiencing the most amazing opportunities. The lessons and memories he has created will be here for many years to come.
"We wish Keith well in his retirement and hope as he reflects on all the years of work and dedication invested into the group and all of us here, he can take pride in knowing he has created a great team with strong values which his trademark kindness runs through.
He added: "We hope Keith enjoys spending more time with those he loves the most. The opportunities he has given us all are undoubtedly life changing and I hope that in the years to come we each are able to do the same for others."
Liddell is looking forward to spending more time with his family and pursuing his love of travelling when restrictions are lifted.