Stonegate Pub Company has picked up the Best Employer (501+ employees) award for the second consecutive year at the hospitality industry’s national award ceremony, The Publican Awards, this week.  The company, which recently completed on the acquisition of Ei Group boosting its employee count to 17,000, stood out for its comprehensive training, strong staff motivation and benefits combined with the sector leading career development programme.

The win was compounded yesterday when the company scooped the award for Best New Wellbeing Strategy at the 2020 Reba Employee Wellbeing Awards. Breakfast television presenter, Louise Minchin, presented the award to the company’s Head of HR, Suzanne Haydon, at the ceremony held at BAFTA in London last night, Thursday 5 March. The pubco beat off, amongst others, TUI and HSBC who were also shortlisted for the category.

The Albert’s Theory of Progression (ATOP) career development pathway is a multi-award-winning programme that provides every employee with the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of Chairman Ian Payne MBE and CEO Simon Longbottom who each started their career behind a bar.  Circa 94% of the managed pubs have at least one team member participating in the ATOP programme at any one time, and over 300 General Managers have been developed through the programme.

The company has continued to personalise, at scale, the opportunity for individuals to thrive. Since winning the Best Pub Employer award last year Stonegate has continued to invest in its people and strengthen its reputation as the employer of choice in the sector. Recent highlights include the launch of a Female Mentoring Programme to increase the number of women in leadership roles in the business, as well as the implementation of a bespoke mental health training programme for all line managers.

The company also received Best Community Pub Operator for the newly acquired Craft Union brand at the event. Craft Union demonstrated the strong community focus across the 371-pub estate, strong innovation and clear evidence of the pubs working in partnership with their communities. The brand has the freedom and support to adapt their offer to fit the local market and create an independent feel.

Strong management, high retail standards combined with excellent standards of training and support put these brilliant pubs at the heart of their communities nurturing the vital role that pubs play in the lives of local customers.

Chief Executive Simon Longbottom said: “The last year has been incredible for Stonegate. We have continued to grow the business through acquisition and market consolidation, investing in our people and our sites to enable them to deliver consistent sales and profit growth outperforming the market.

“It is testament to the calibre, dedication and hard work of our teams within the business that peers and industry experts recognise Stonegate as the Best Employer for the third time (2020; 2019 and 2013).  The recognition bestowed on Craft Union echoes the importance we place on pubs within our community further endorsing our decision to join forces with Ei Group whose commitment to managing great community pubs mirrors our own.”

Suzanne Haydon said: “It is such an honour to be recognised for the work we have done for our employees at two such prestigious awards ceremonies. We are dedicated to delivering the best possible working experience to all of our staff and we want to keep building on those pillars of support we are already offering.

“This year has already seen us enhance our Maternity and Paternity Leave policy, as well as include adoption and IVF treatment under that umbrella, introduce a long-service recognition scheme and from 1 April, we will also be offering two weeks of bereavement leave at full pay for all employees who lose a close family member.

“Stonegate is a company built on its people and we fully intend to show that same loyalty and commitment to our staff, as they show to our business.”

These latest awards follow on from a phenomenal 2019 when Stonegate picked up a total of 16 industry awards, six of which were secured by its chairman and chief executive. Unquestionably a pub industry icon, chairman Ian Payne MBE was officially recognised as such last year, picking up the CGA Peach Industry Icon accolade and an Icon Award. He also received a Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to the pub industry. Meanwhile, CEO Simon Longbottom, was declared Industry Leader of the YearBusiness Leader of the Year (a title which Payne claimed in 2014) and a 2019 Maserati 100 business innovator.

The Publican Awards are the leading awards in the pub and bar sector, rewarding excellence across a range of areas, from business success to employment practices.