Hall & Woodhouse is an independent Dorset family company that brews award winning Badger Ales and runs an estate of high-quality pubs in the south of England.
The company was founded in 1777 by Charles Hall, a Dorset farmer, who opened a Brewery in the village of Ansty. More than 60 years on, his son Robert (who inherited the brewery) brought Edward Woodhouse into the business as his commercial partner. Edward fell in love with, and married, Charles Hall’s grand-daughter – Hannah Dodge. Hall & Woodhouse was born.
Family owned with Anthony Woodhouse and Mark Woodhouse as the current seventh generation stewards, the business is proud to be a leading independent regional brewer, with an established estate of 180 beautiful pubs across the south of England. Anthony Woodhouse, Chairman of Hall & Woodhouse (H&W), comments on the business’ 2019 results and provides a trading update in light of the pandemic.
“2019 was always planned to be a year of change for H&W, with a number of senior departures, the transition to the new generation of leaders and the next iteration of its long-term strategy. Despite these distractions, ongoing pre-tax profits of just under £7million were generated for the year ended January 2020. This was broadly level with the previous one that had seen substantial growth. Net debt was reduced by £6million to £50.6million.
“It is testament to the planning, skill and hard work of the team under Matt Kearsey’s leadership, that the transition has been achieved so smoothly, whilst maintaining such an impressive trading performance.
“Since year end, the pandemic has significantly impacted the hospitality industry and our pubs’ business. However, post the first lockdown, trading levels in our pubs were significantly better than predicted, albeit on average lower than usual. We are grateful for the support provided to the industry by HM Government.
“Badger Beers and Rio have both performed excellently in the off-trade throughout this period, resulting in the Brewery’s output being significantly above last year’s volumes. Badger Direct, an online delivery service, also got off to an excellent start.
“The team could not have done a better job in getting the company into battle formation for lockdown. They then successfully managed the reopening of our pubs safely, with the priority of protecting our team members and guests. They have rightly earned plaudits from both within and outside the industry for how our teams, our Business Partners and our communities have been, and continue to be, supported during the crisis. We have acted in line with our values and our WoW (Ways of Woodhouse) culture as our current family shareholders, and indeed past generations, would have expected and demanded.
“This combined has put us in a much better position than we forecast we might be in these circumstances, with borrowings held at levels similar to last year, notwithstanding the pubs being closed throughout lockdown. However, we have to be realistic that this winter will be hard for us all, as the second lockdown illustrates. Despite this, we are in the privileged position that our business has been built over many generations, with us owning the vast majority of our pubs and having limited borrowings. We are therefore in a very strong position to tough it out, balancing the needs of the company with looking after our teams and our Business Partners as well as we possibly can.
“The pandemic has accelerated a number of trends (e.g. home working, staycations, sense of community, demise of the high street) that had already heavily influenced our long-term thinking and our growth strategy. This, combined with our existing superb high-quality pub estate and teams, means that we are well positioned to rebuild trade and grow rapidly when the crisis is over. More than ever it is clear that the right pubs, providing the right offer, in the right locations, will continue to be treasured by their communities as they have for millennia.”
Please visit www.hall-woodhouse.co.uk for more information.