Company in charge of two popular Oxfordshire pubs adds to list of accolades at industry 'Oscars'

Oakman Inns, the operators of two popular Oxfordshire pubs, has scooped another pair of gongs at the Publican Awards 2017.
Jonathan Ross presents award to Peter Borg-Neal, CEO Oakman InnsJonathan Ross presents award to Peter Borg-Neal, CEO Oakman Inns
Jonathan Ross presents award to Peter Borg-Neal, CEO Oakman Inns

Still basking in their recent Top 10 recognition in the coveted Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to Work For, Oakman Inns & Restaurants - which operates The Crown & Thistle in Abingdon, The Old Post Office at Wallingford and the Blue Boar in Witney - were celebrating into the small hours after winning two further awards at Tuesday’s Publican Awards in London.

Oakman was named Best Community Pub Operator – where the winning company has demonstrated that it has a successful pub estate of community focused pubs - an award they have won for a third time in four years.

Their pubs have supported local charities, sport and development programmes for the young, and in many cases sponsored their local rugby club teams, for which they have created and sponsored the annual Oakman Cup, a Mini’s rugby festival for 400 primary school children.

In the aftermath of the Italian earthquake that destroyed much of Amatrice last year, the pubs held a 72 hour #EatForItaly fundraiser donating the net price of pizza and pasta dishes to the Italian Red Cross raising a total of over £20K. Each pub donates 25 pence per dish from each pork belly dish sold from their menu to help the Woodland Trust continue their conservation projects for future generations.

Oakman’s CEO and founder, Peter Borg-Neal, was also awarded Business Leader of the Year 2017 which was voted for by the Publican Awards’ finalists and judges from a shortlist of six of the most admired senior business executives in the pub trade.

Peter said: “To win the Best Community Pub Operator for the third time is a tremendous reflection of the commitment we show as our business to the communities we operate in and everybody in Oakman Inns should be incredibly proud. Whilst we thought we had a good chance of repeating our victories of 2014 and 2015 in this category I had no idea that I was in the running for Business Leader of the Year. The last winners of this award are Mike Tye, Ian Payne and Rooney Anand. To be even mentioned in the same breath as leaders like these is deeply flattering. I am surprised, delighted and humbled in equal measure.”

The company, which started with its first pub in Tring, Herts, in 2007, and now operates multiple sites across eight counties in the Home Counties and the Midlands, employing over 600 people, was also nominated for Best Pub Employer for 500+ employees – a category they have won twice before.

In their 26th year, The Morning Advertiser’s Publican Awards are the pre-eminent accolades of the UK Pub industry, and it was appropriate, therefore that the event took place at the Evolution in Battersea, the venue that hosted the 2016 Team GB Olympic Ball. They were hosted by Jonathan Ross, and recognise the best in every aspect of the pub industry – from the smallest, family-owned pubs, to the best brewing pub companies and late­night operators – and this year saw a record number of entries.

A total of 73 finalists were shortlisted in the 18 award categories, and each finalist went through a rigorous – and often secret - judging process, which included headquarter and site visits by judges, mystery shoppers, research and finally a ‘Dragon’s Den’ style grilling from a panel of leading industry experts.

Oakman’s Roll Call of Honour at the Publican Awards

Best Pub Employer of the Year 2014

Best Community Pub Operator 2014

Best New Pub/Bar 2015 – The Beech House, St Albans

Best Community Pub Operator 2015

Best Pub Employer of the Year 2015 (2-50 sites)

Best Community Pub Operator 2017

Business Leader of the Year 2017 – CEO, Peter Borg-Neal