Top pub industry award for Butcombe recognises its success in ‘incredibly challenging’ year

April 13, 2021

Bristol craft brewery and pub group Butcombe is toasting success in an awards scheme widely recognised as the Oscars of the hospitality industry.

Butcombe and its parent company Liberation Group landed the Best Managed Pub Company at the prestigious Publican Awards, which for almost three decades have recognised excellence in the pub and bar trade. 

While this year’s awards ceremony took place virtually – in marked contrast to previous years when the event has attracted up to 1,500 industry figures – the competition was no less fierce.

Wrington-based Butcombe fought off impressive competition from some of the UK’s biggest pub chains to earn its award, which championed the managed retail estate that had shown strong innovation and business performance in the past year.

Last November Butcombe acquired a group of 21 pubs, including the Badminton Arms at Coalpit Heath, from Wiltshire brewer Wadworths, extending its portfolio across the South of England and into the West Midlands for the first time and adding 140 rooms and over 800 new covers to its estate.

Butcombe, which was acquired by Channel Island-based beer, wine and pub group Liberation four years ago, already owned 39 pubs around Bristol, Bath, Somerset and the Mendips, including The Bell in Stokes Croft, The Cottage Inn at Baltic Wharf and the Hatchett Inn on Frogmore Street and The Ostrich on Lower Guinea Street.

Alongside this, the group also embarked on an extensive program of refurbishment and upgrades and a substantial investment in outside areas providing safe and secure eating and dining areas at many of its sites. 

This included The Ostrich, the 18th-century, Grade-II listed Bristol harbourside pub, which was shortlisted for the Best New Site award while Butcombe was also in the running for the Best Premium Food Offer title.

Liberation Group managing director, pubs & inns Jayson Perfect, pictured, said: “To win Best Managed Pub Company at these prestigious awards is such an honour and pays testament to the hard work and dedication of everyone in the business – from the teams at our pubs, head offices, breweries and distribution centres

“This year has obviously been incredibly challenging and we’ve often had to react to circumstances quickly, change direction and think on our feet.

“But one thing has never changed, and that’s our passion for what we do and our dedication to providing our guests with the very best hospitality around.”

Ed Bedington, editor of The Morning Advertiser – which organises the awards – and one of the judges, added: “The awards are the benchmark of excellence for the hospitality trade and Butcombe should be rightly proud of their success in the competition.

“It’s an event that attracts the best in the business and to finish top is quite the achievement. I’d like to pay tribute to the team there and I hope they enjoy their well-deserved win.”

The awards’ judging process remains one of the most comprehensive, rigorous and reputable in the industry, ensuring that the competition remains the most respected in the pub trade as well as guaranteeing that all awards are given fairly and deservedly.

The virtual awards ceremony was hosted by comedian Ed Gamble.

Other winners included Greene King, which took the titles of Community Pub Operator of the Year, Tenanted and Leased Pub Company of the Year while CEO Nick Mackenzie scooped the title of Business Leader of the Year.

The Stay Original Company also celebrated a double win, taking the title of Best Accommodation Operator and also Best Premium Food Offer.

Other winners included North Bar/North Brewing Co taking the title again for Best Brewing Pub Company, while BrewDog were celebrating after being declared the Best Sustainable Pub Company.

Butcombe was founded in 1978 by former managing director of Courage Western Simon Whitmore. At the time, few breweries were making what became known as ‘real ale’ and Butcombe built up a loyal following of beer lovers in the Bristol area.

As well as its much-expanded brewery in Wrington it operates a distribution and packaging facility in Polden, near Bridgwater.

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