Sustainable stars shine bright for Oakman Inns

Sustainable stars shine bright for Oakman Inns

Following last year's initial One Star rating across all their units, the growing Oakman Inns & Restaurants Group is delighted to announce that they have been upgraded to Two Stars in this year's SRA (The Sustainable Restaurant Association) ratings, often referred to as ‘the Michelin stars of sustainability’ published today.

Each individual unit underwent a vigorous and independent examination by the SRA across the 14 key focus areas within The SRA’s three pillars of sustainability - Society, Sourcing and Environment. With an increase of up to 15% in their overall ratings across seven sites, Oakman Inns achieved their second star in only their second year of SRA membership which reaffirms their long-term commitment to the environment and the many communities and towns their pubs and restaurants serve.

Key areas which contributed towards Oakman Inns’ second star in the ‘Sourcing’ category included the group’s creation and implementation of a sustainable seafood sourcing policy which guarantees they only serve seasonal wild fish and seafood caught in British waters and landed in British ports. Together with the group’s menu flexibility and provision of a broad range of species, customers are assured that their local Oakman Inn serves sustainable, seasonal fish from British waters.

Again, under the ‘Sourcing’ pillar, Oakman Inns’ scores increased thanks to a number of new initiatives and practices such as listing organic and biodynamic wines and serving Tea, Coffee and Sugars that are always Fair Trade certified. One of the highest scoring areas was ‘Ethical Meat & Diary’ where Oakman was given ‘Excellent’ scores for sourcing free range British meat and purchasing British milk and eggs.

The group scored highly in last year’s independent sustainability assessment, and has improved that score even further by introducing additional small changes that have been credited in this year’s report. These include the introduction of bee-friendly plants in all their gardens, the use of local florists, voluntary staff interaction with local community projects and the introduction of the Good Food Talks app (a talking menu for Smartphones for Blind and VI customers).

In Environmental terms, Oakman Inns has worked very closely with their suppliers to create more efficient delivery systems, initiate formal agreements on sustainable sourcing and strengthen the supplier relationship with site visits to educate staff on new products, product development and supply chain improvements.

But the biggest overall improvement (up by 56%) has been in Food Waste Management where Oakman Inns has introduced a formal system to measure waste to actively attempt to reduce or prevent it from going to landfill. Staff meals are now often made from surplus ingredients, customers are being encouraged to take home unfinished meals in ‘doggy bags’ and kitchen leftovers are being separated for composting/anaerobic digestion.

Exceptional practices were observed in ‘Society’ pillar and their high rating was well above the UK SRA average with ‘Responsible Marketing’ and ‘Treating People Fairly’ scoring the highest.

Mark Linehan, Managing Director of the SRA, said: “Oakman Inns are a fantastic example of a pub and restaurant group that fully appreciate their responsibility to operate sustainably and see it not as a hindrance to profitability but a key driver, recognising increasing consumer demand. What’s even more pleasing is that Oakman understand that this is a journey and they are clearly committed to improving year on year.”

Peter Borg-Neal, CEO of Oakman Inns & Restaurants, said: “I am very proud of my team. Whilst this year has seen our group expand by almost 50%, the Oakman team has never taken their eye of the sustainability ball and has consistently continued to find ways to improve our world and ensure that everything we do has a positive impact on both our environment and our communities. The SRA rating embraces many aspects of our business, and our shared ethos is part of the foundations on which we built and continue to develop the company. Not wishing to rest on our laurels, we are now working towards achieving three stars next year.”