Oaknorth provides £42m loan to ambitious leisure operator to continue growth

Sean Donkin

Manchester entrepreneurial-focused bank, OakNorth, has provided a leisure operator with a £42m loan to refurbish and redevelop its property portfolio.

OakNorth announced the deal today with The Inn Collection Group, which has 26 sites across Northumberland, County Durham, the Lake District, Tyne and Wear, and Wales.

The group will use the financial injection to refurbish 13 of the inns in its portfolio and to support continued redevelopment of its current property portfolio.

The Black Swan in Helmsley and The Pheasant Inn in Bassenthwaite are two inns funded via the OakNorth Bank capital which have now reopened after high quality refurbishments.

Established in 2006, Inn Collection Group develops contemporary inns – providing accommodation, food and drink to leisure and business customers.

It is backed by Alchemy Partners, the British private equity firm which has invested more than £4bn across more than 185 transactions since its inception in 1997.

In 2019, with equity capital from Alchemy and debt capital from OakNorth Bank, the group set out to grow from 271 rooms across nine sites to almost 900 rooms across 21 sites by 2022.

However, it has managed to exceed this ambitious target with a portfolio that’s grown to more than 1,000 rooms across 26 sites, including its first in Wales in the heart of the Snowdonia National Park. It is keen to capitalise on the staycation trend so is refurbishing 13 of its sites and continuing to develop the current property portfolio.

Sean Donkin, managing director of Inn Collection Group, said: “COVID has, of course, been hugely challenging for the sector, but as with any good business, we’ve tried to find opportunity in times of turmoil.

“That is why we are keen to continue developing our portfolio with sites that fit with our proposition of providing high quality accommodation, service, food and beverages. We are grateful to both OakNorth Bank and Alchemy for their continued support.”

Stuart Blair, debt finance director at OakNorth Bank, said: “We’ve been very impressed by the evolution of Inn Collection Group – over the years it has continued to build a quality portfolio, balancing ambitious and strategic growth with achievable and sustainable results.

“With more than 19 years experienced in the hospitality sector, Sean has an outstanding track record, and over the last 18 months, has bolstered management with both a CFO and operations director.”

He added: “This has evidently yielded results both in terms of positive trading at all new sites – a clear indication of strong site selection – but also in the group’s ability to acquire quality sites throughout COVID at competitive entry prices. The fact that the group has backing from Alchemy Partners, speaks volumes about the quality of both its management team and future growth potential.”