J T Davies & Sons, the parent company for Henley-based pub operator and brewer Brakspear, increased its turnover during the year ending 31 December 2018 by 12%, to £31.8m which generated EBITDA of £8.7m, up 13% on the previous year. Profit before tax over the same period was £5.4m, representing a 12% increase on 2017.
Sales growth came from the 13-strong managed house division and amounted to £3.2m, giving an annual turnover of £14.8m for managed houses. The turnover increase came from like for like sales growth of £0.9m, the full year growth effect from sites opened in 2017 of £1.7m and £1m from the opening of the Frogmill near Cheltenham in July 2018.
Turnover in the tenanted and leased estate was level with the prior year reflecting a 1.6% increase in like for like trading volumes countered by the transfer of a site to the managed division at the end of 2017 and the sale of two sites in 2018, both to local pub operators, as part of Brakspear’s pub disposal programme.
The growth in EBITDA is as expected following investment in managed house growth and in the leased and tenanted estate. During 2018 investment in the maintenance and enhancement of the pub estate amounted to £6.7m and included the company’s single largest investment to date at the Frogmill. The venue now comprises a 100-cover restaurant, bar, 28 boutique bedrooms and wedding and conference facilities for up to 150 guests.
Other significant investments included the addition of 13 bedrooms and refurbishment of the bar at the Lion in Wendlebury, near Bicester, aquired for the managed estate in autumn 2017; a full redevelopment of the Joker Croydon within the T&L estate, and a number of smaller refurbishments. For the first time in many years, during 2018 the company acquired new property and commenced construction projects to increase its unlicenced property estate.
Chief executive Tom Davies said, “2018 met our expectations in terms of sales and profitability. Our core tenanted and leased business continues to trade well. I believe we have some of the best pubs in the T&L sector, run by some of the most talented operators.
“Our managed estate is developing nicely, despite cost pressures impacting the business, it seems at every turn. Investment in our people and systems is helping us to further improve service, sales and profitability.”
Davies added “Our plan has been to continue to support our tenants and lessees, with the aim of helping them to build thriving pub businesses, whether food-led or community local. In our managed estate, we aim to deliver exceptional standards across food, drink, rooms and service, ensuring that every customer leaves us happier than when they arrived. I am pleased to add that so far in 2019 this plan continues to work for us.”
In June 2019 Brakspear purchased the Nags Head in Abingdon, sited halfway across Abingdon Bridge on its own island in the middle of the Thames, with extensive gardens. The company continues its search for acquisition opportunities to grow its leased, tenanted and managed pub estates.