Northern Enterprise Awards 2020

12 | Northern Enterprise Awards 2020 Oct20384 Pub Group of the Year 2020 Based in the idyllic South Lakeland near the Lake District, Lakeland Inns is a unique business that owns five pubs and microbrewery spread across the area. Business Partners Kirsty Ridge and Scott Mackenzie took over their first pub (The Sun Inn) in 2015, and after completing a refurbishment on the dated and run down town centre venue, the reopening was a huge success. Managing Director Kirsty Ridge says “Our focus was on customer experience, great tasting, freshly cooked food and an extensive drinks selection, including local real ales. We brought back to life a business with so much local history, and the changes and new menu were so well received by the local community” They soon acquired two more pubs and, two years later, the Lakeland brewhouse microbrewery, a brand under which they continue to sell their beers. Today, Lakeland’s Inns’ empire comprises five fantastic pubs: The Sun Inn in Ulverston, known for its incredible burgers and beautiful beer garden; The Commodore in Grange-over- Sands, which boasts exceptional views over Morecambe Bay that can be enjoyed from the terrace, beer garden, or cosy interior; The Royal Oak Inn,Curthwaite, which is situated in a quintessential village, seamlessly blends a modernised style with a traditional village pub charm; The Royal Oak, Spark Bridge is the perfect place to stay when exploring The Lake District and The Black Cock Inn, which is a charming village pub run by a resident couple who have become known for their fine food, warm welcome, and great beers. When Lakeland Inns acquired the brewery, it was an established business in Ulverston but desperately in need of commercial guidance, sales experience and investment. Today, all of Lakeland Inns’ pubs are stocked with Lakeland brewhouse beers and ales from the 100% renewably powered brewhouse, which also supplies several pubs across the north west. “We are currently in the middle of a large expansion programme for our brewery which will see us triple our brewing capacity,” says Kirsty. “As part of this, Lakeland brewhouse will open its first craft beer bar which will sit alongside the new brew kit and will be available for special events, functions and product launches.” Since 2015, Kirsty and her team have taken a forward-thinking approach to ensure that their pubs stand out in a saturated market: “We have an all-female senior management team, and we feel as a pub group we are making waves and breaking down stereotypes in a male-dominated industry. We believe in leading from the front. All of our management team have worked from bar staff positions to their managerial roles within the business and so have a vast operational experience.” Moreover, all five pubs employ a team of chefs who share more than a hundred years of combined experience between them, bringing insights and knowledge from a broad variety of kitchens. As a result, Lakeland Inns’ pubs all boast exquisite menus that enhance the welcoming hospitality, great beers and beautiful locations that the company has become synonymous with in the Lake District. The pubs welcome guests from all over the world who come to visit the region, but they also take care of their local communities that have become loyal clientele that have supported Lakeland Inns, even in its most challenging moments. Unsurprisingly, the Covid-19 pandemic and resulting lockdowns have had a profound impact on Lakeland Inns, just as it has on the rest of the hospitality sector. In the periods that customers have been allowed to visit pubs and restaurants, they have sought high quality experiences that are a treat amongst the bleak backdrop of the pandemic. As such, Lakeland Inns has been working hard to boost their menus and food offering to ensure that their guests enjoy a memorable, relaxing and delicious trip that helps distract from the weariness of Covid-19. Even when guests have not been able to visit the pubs themselves, Kirsty and her team have provided the means to ensure their guests do not miss out on the pub experience completely: “Due to the new drink at home culture, we have seen a rise in the sale of our Brewery mini-kegs, as they are a great way to have that “at home” pint experience,” says Kirsty. The sheer determination and careful planning of herself and her team have even seen some of company’s most successful trading months ever following the lockdowns and the creation of thirty- five additional jobs across the group, ensuring that their years of hard work are not undone by the pandemic. Whilst uncertainty regarding government regulations continues to cause concern, Lakeland Inns is adapting, creating promotions such as a beer home delivery service. Thanks to initiatives such as this, Lakeland Inns has so far retained jobs and continued successful trade that will enable them to come back even stronger post-Covid-19. Company: Lakeland Inns Contact: Kirsty Ridge Website: Lakeland Inns runs five pubs and an award-winning microbrewery in the beautifully scenic Lake District. Breaking down all sorts of barriers, this female-run company is thriving in a male-dominated industry and the focus on sustainability in their microbrewery and pubs makes it a market-leading establishment. Owner Kirsty Ridge tells us more.