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Sean Donkin named as managing director of The Inn Collection Group

Sean Donkin has been named as the new managing director of The Inn Collection Group as the North East hospitality and leisure specialist prepares for further expansion.

With an 18-year career in the hospitality sector, Sean has been promoted to managing director from his previous position as operation director for company which has a growing portfolio of eight pubs with rooms in prime locations across the North of England.

Sean joined the business as general manager of the group’s top-performance unit, The Bamburgh Castle Inn in Seahouses in 2008.

Business founder, Keith Liddell, who is moving across from CEO to serve as the award-winning group’s executive deputy chairman, said: “Sean has an outstanding track record in the market and I am delighted to see his career develop in tandem with the growth of the group.

“The Inn Collection Group has a policy of promoting talent from within, which has led to exceptionally strong staff retention rates. In Sean’s case, this policy has resulted in an individual who has unparalleled knowledge of the industry as well as the group and its ethos through his hands-on involvement with our growth at every stage.”

As well as maintaining the high quality, service and facilities for customers that mark out the group’s estate of pubs, Sean’s focus is leading the growth and expansion of The Inn Collection Group, both within and further afield from its North East heartland.

A major refurbishment of The Seaton Lane Inn near Sunderland is underway while 2018 will also see the opening of the new £4.2 million Northumberland unit, The Amble Inn in October. The recent acquisition of properties adjacent to The Bamburgh Castle Inn will introduce a further 13 bedrooms to this high-profile site.

Sean said: “The Inn Collection Group has carved out an excellent reputation becoming a trusted brand in the sector. I am delighted to be stepping up to the position of managing director as a year of exciting development lies ahead of us. 

“We are already one of the largest private provider of accommodation in the region. During 2018 we will continue to seek out new premises – including sites beyond the North East and Yorkshire - that fit with our philosophy of offering pubs with rooms accommodation and classic homemade meals at great value for money prices.”

Sean sees the group’s 250-strong workforce as a key component of the company’s vision for growth and is rolling out a new training academy for staff which will introduce a company intranet for online training and development.

Sean said: “We are proud to have established an ambitious team of customer-focused staff. Having been promoted through the ranks of the company myself, developing our people to meet their full potential and enjoy long and successful careers with us is close to my heart.”

The Inn Collection Group is a pathfinder for Britain’s Favourite Walks

If the runaway success of ITV’s Britain’s Favourite Walks has inspired you to dust off your walking boots, then head for an Inn Collection Group pub and enjoy some of the UK’s best walks on your doorstep.

A trailblazing nine routes close to the group’s pubs with rooms, made it into the programme’s top 100, with the North – and especially coastal walks – coming out top among voters.

Around 8,000 people voted for their favourite walks for the programme, presented by Julia Bradbury and Ore Oduba, with famous faces and keen hikers profiling their own favourite paths.

The Inn Collection Group’s operations director Sean Donkin said: “It’s no surprise that people love to walk in the North. We have the best beaches, more castles than any other county in England, rugged hill country and showstopper viewpoints  – all interspersed with amazing local history and attractions.

“Our inns, which span the North of England, including Northumberland, County Durham and North Yorkshire, pride themselves on welcoming in walkers. Our staff are keen hikers themselves. Myself, along with general managers from the whole group have just walked the route from Dunstanburgh to Craster – the very route which made the show’s final ten in the whole of the country.

“We welcome muddy boots, have wash down facilities, help with drying wet gear – and staff are always happy to share local knowledge of nearby routes, facilities, accessibility, public transport and what people can see and do along the way – they will even drop off and collect walkers from their routes, if they can.”

To celebrate the wealth of walks around their inns, the group has introduced Walk Inn breaks at several walking hotspots.

Including bed and breakfast, a welcome drink on arrival, dinner, a pack of 20 waterproofed O/S walks around the inn of your choice, and a packed lunch, Walk Inn start from £40 per person on top of standard room rates. 

Walk Inn breaks are available at:

The Bamburgh Castle Inn at Seahouses, Northumberland 

The Lindisfarne Inn at Beal, near Holy Island, Northumberland

The Hog’s Head Inn at Alnwick, Northumberland

The Commissioners Quay Inn at Blyth, Northumberland 

The King’s Head Inn at Newton under Roseberry, North Yorks

See walks from ITV’s Britain’s Favourite Walks – Top 100 here

Festive trading boom tops record year for Inn Collection Group

Pub operators The Inn Collection Group have revealed record Christmas trading following upbeat seasonal sales. 

The North East based leisure operator reported a rise in like-for-like sales of 7.5pc in the five weeks leading up to January 6, compared to the same period last year. 

Sean Donkin, operations director at the North East based pub group said: “We are delighted to have exceeded our seasonal sales forecasts with the strongest like-for-like sales achieved yet in the group’s 10-year history.

 “We enjoyed an extended period of festivities as a result of Christmas falling on a Monday, which enabled us to optimise the number of Christmas party events across our units, which has contributed towards a record rise in accommodation sales.” 

He added: “Bar sales grew strongly, driven by demand for premium drinks products and our Christmas menus and entertainment were well received and helped secure record covers across the period.” 

Strong festive trading topped an excellent year of trading for the operator, with the group delivering like for like sales growth of 13pc for the year as a whole.

Overall, all trading formats performed well across the group’s estate of pubs with rooms, with accommodation leading the way with a 26pc increase in sales. 

The Inn Collection Group’s estate has a current total of 202 bedrooms across its Northumberland, County Durham and Teesside units, and construction of a further 30-bedroom new build inn at Amble, Northumberland, is underway, set to open in October 2018. 

The eight-site leisure operator, which is backed by London-based Kings Park Capital, is one of the North East’s largest independent accommodation providers. 

The Hog's Head Inn teams up with the Northumberland Gazette to give a free starter or pud offer to every reader to celebrate 2018

The Northumberland Gazette has teamed up with The Hog's Head Inn to celebrate the New Year ‘inn’ style by giving a free starter or dessert to every reader so they can raise their knives, forks and spoons to mark 2018.

Led by acclaimed head chef Kelvin Gallaugher, The Hog’s Head Inn’s kitchen boasts a strong following of foodies for its delicious, homemade pub dishes and daily changing specials, while it’s user friendly facilities make it a popular choice with families, too. 

And with this offer, a trip to The Hog’s Head Inn has got even tastier by giving every reader the chance to enjoy a free starter or pudding with every adult main course purchased. 

Open daily from 7.30am with food served until 9pm, The Hog’s Head Inn’s winter menu has a wide range of crowd pleasers guaranteed to warm the cockles of your heart on a chilly January day. 

From comfort food classics, like steak and ale pie slow-cooked in Tyneside Blonde Ale to homemade pizzas with a range of delectable toppings, a spicy new selection of curry dishes as well as the inn’s famous steak range, The Hog’s Head Inn prides itself on having dishes to suit everyone’s tastes.

General manager Gary Turner said: “We are delighted to be partnering with the Northumberland Gazette to wish readers a very happy New Year.

“After the excitement of Christmas and the New Year, January can seem a bit of a come-down. So what better pick-you-up could there be than a mouth watering meal out, with a freebie starter or pudding literally being the icing on the cake!”

To claim you free starter or pudding voucher, simply buy a copy of the Northumberland Gazette (on January 4th) or download and print your Free Starter or Pudding Voucher and handover when you order. A voucher is valid for every adult main course meal, from Monday to Thursday until February 8th.