The Oakman Group is relinquishing its management contract of Seafood Pub Company, the chain it saved from administration in 2021.
The demerged business will move forward under the sole ownership and direction of former executive Dermot King (pictured), who will transition to a non-executive director role at Oakman once the demerger process has completed.
King has owned the Seafood Pub Company brand since its 2021 acquisition, with Oakman running it under a management deal. The deal means Oakman will end the contract and King will run it as an independent business.
King moved from COO to CEO of Oakman in 2022, before Peter Borg-Neal returned to the CEO role in a board restructure last year which saw King take charge of the finance team on an interim basis.
Seafood Pub Company was founded by Joycelyn Neve in 2010 but filed for administration in June 2020 after failing to secure a Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan (CBIL) or raise additional funding from investors. Oakman did not disclose what her role will be under the new structure.
Currently, the 10-strong SPC portfolio consists of the Alma Inn in Colne, the Derby Arms in Longridge, the Farmers Arms in Great Eccleston, the Fenwick in Claughton, the Fleece in Ilkley, the Grand Junction Arms in Tring, the Hesketh Arms in Rufford, the Navigation Inn in Lapworth, the Pointer in Brill and the Three Locks in Stoke Hammond.
Following the demerger, Oakman will comprise 33 trading sites and five pipeline sites.
The company revealed the divestment as part of its financial reporting for the year ending 2 July 2023. During this period, sales rose by more than 6% from £54.4m to £57.8m.
The group also reported that for the five weeks ending on 31 December 2023, the core Oakman Inns business delivered sales of £7.7m, representing an increase of 9.5% on the prior year and like-for-like growth of 4.5%.
The positive Christmas trading continued a trend of gradual improvement in performance, following a more challenging start to the first half of 2023 driven by the unseasonably poor weather in July and August.
Furthermore, the business revealed that in the second half of 2023 it achieved group sales of £32.3m, a 4.1% increase versus the prior year.
Oakman's CEO, Peter Borg-Neal, commented: "External trading conditions remain challenging. However, I am delighted with the way the whole team has come together to deliver significant profit recovery over the past six months.
"The business is in great shape to meet the near-term challenges we face and to deliver significant growth in the medium-term."
Image: Dermot King, who will now run Seafood Pub Company as an independent business.